Sunday, August 15, 2021

Sunday Brunch: Refreshing Summer Drink Ideas + 5 Book #Giveaway!

CLEO COYLE: Truth? I'm not much of a hard alcohol drinker. In fact, I’m what you might call a cheap drunk since very little coin at the bar will get me loopy! I'm sure this isn't much of a revelation to anyone aware of my passion for the most classically sobering of beverages (i.e., COFFEE, which I typically take via an IV drip beside my writing desk). That’s why I always appreciate virgin drink ideas, aka mocktails. I think they’re especially versatile since you can always splash a bit of alcohol into said mocktail on days when a little spike will make things right.

So here’s a refreshing mocktail idea I’m happy to share. When Marc and I have extra fruit on our hands, we like to whip up this Virgin White Sangria. It’s an incredibly delicious and satisfying drink for hot summer days, and it’s versatile because you can make a big virgin pitcher (without alcohol) for kids and non-drinkers while still serving individual spiked versions. All you’d have to do is splash a bit of port, sherry, fortified wine, or even brandy, vodka, rum, grappa, or a fruit liqueur into the individual glasses before adding the virgin sangria and you've got a spectacular summer cooler.

What about all of you? 
Do you have a refreshing drink idea to share
 for these last, lazy days of summer 
(with or without alcohol)?


MADDIE DAY: That sangria sounds so refreshing, Cleo! Where I live, peaches are ripening. It's a short season and a delicious one. in NO GRATER CRIME, my ninth County Store Mystery, a Bloomington, Indiana restaurant serves a Peach Hoagy they invented in honor of Hoagy Carmichael , who was born in the university town, and his song, "Georgia on My Mind." 

I include a recipe for this refreshing drink in the book, and I featured it here on MLK on Friday. It would make a great brunch offering.


MIA P. MANANSALA: I absolutely love sangria, Cleo! And my husband is really into peaches lately, so I might have to give that recipe a try, Edith. 

In the Philippines, there's a whole category of drinks known as "samalamig" (malamig literally means "cold" in Tagalog), which are sweet and refreshing, and often have solid ingredients in them, such as shredded melon, tapioca pearls, gelatin cubes, etc. Filipinos love varying textures in their food and drinks. My childhood favorite is sago at gulaman, which has tapioca pearls and agar-agar gelatin cubes in a brown sugar syrup-based drink. Absolutely delicious, but definitely on the sweet side.

Right now, I'm having a lot of fun coming up with flavored simple syrups for drink concoctions for my books (and myself). Even though I'm usually not into floral flavors, I've been obsessed with lavender simple syrup. Keep an eye out since I'll be sharing the syrup recipe as well as various drink ideas in the next few weeks!


MAYA CORRIGANWhen I visited Athens, Greece, in May 2019, I noticed a lot of people walking around, sipping from a tall plastic "glass" with a straw protruding from its domed top. I asked a guide what they were drinking. It was a cold coffee drink, a freddo, which is a popular all year round, not just in the summer. Though I was never fond of cold coffee, I tried a freddo cappuccino and was hooked. An iced version of the regular cappuccino, it is topped with cold frothed milk. Freddo cappuccino is reputed to be the most consumed coffee in Greece over the last decade. I don't have a cappuccino maker at home or any Greek restaurants nearby that serve freddo cappuccino. Darn. That means I'll have to go to Greece again. It was always my favorite country to visit, and now I have another reason to go back.   

For a summer drink without caffeine, try a champagne cocktail based on Punch Romaine, part of the final meal served on the Titanic. The punch was similar to a frozen champagne cocktail or an alcoholic granita. The cocktail version is easy to make. 


MOLLY MACRAE: Our go-to special summer drink is Rosemary Watermelon Lemonade. I came across this recipe when I was writing the opening scenes of Last Wool and Testament, book 1 in the Haunted Yarn Shop Mysteries. At the wake for Ivy McClellan, owner of the (not yet haunted) yarn shop, everyone is wearing something Ivy knitted or wove, or something made from the wool she spun or dyed. And all the food contains rosemary for remembrance, including an olive oil and rosemary cake with dark chocolate. So good! I'll post a recipe for that on MLK sometime this fall when it isn't too hot and muggy to bake. Here's a picture of the lemonade to whet your thirst. I'll post the recipe for this on August 28th. You can also find the cake and the lemonade recipes in the book. Drink up!

Rosemary Watermelon Lemonade - so refreshing!


LESLIE KARST: As you no doubt are aware if you know me—or if you’ve seen me at the bar at various mystery conventions—I do quite enjoy alcoholic beverages. Though I have to limit myself to no more than two or three max over the course of an evening, lest I suffer the consequences the next day.

And this time of year, when the cucumbers are going gangbuster in my garden, I like to juice the lovely green beasts to add to various drinks—both with and without booze. Cucumber juice is an amazingly refreshing tonic, and makes for a delicious elixir, mixed with a little simple syrup (equal parts sugar and water) along with soda water, lime juice, ginger beer, and/or gin. Any combination of these ingredients makes for a wonderful summer drink. And the best part of all is the marvelous shade of green! (See here for my recipe for a Cucumber Martini.)


LESLIE BUDEWITZ: I've gotten seriously hooked on an iced cold brew on hot summer afternoons. I don't mean beer, which I enjoy but which puts me to sleep. No, I'm talking cold brew coffee served on ice. For cold brew, put 3/4 cup ground coffee in a quart jar, add water, seal it, and shake to mix. Stash in the fridge for 12-24 hours, then shake again and filter into another quart jar through a paper or mesh filter. To make an afternoon treat -- or a morning one, if you prefer -- put a cup of ice in a tall glass, then add 1/2 cup cold brew and 1/2 cup water and a tablespoon or two of milk. Froth it as the Greeks do if you'd like, or just pour it in and stir! (I'm with Maya in loving Greece!) You can also add in a tablespoon or so of vanilla syrup or another flavor -- pour the syrup in before the ice and coffee for ease of stirring.

I adore a glass or two of wine in the evenings, but I can be enticed into the occasional cocktail. This terrific Tequila-Thyme Lemonade from Killing Thyme, my third Spice Shop mystery, can be made with tequila, gin, vodka, or white rum, or served virgin. Fresh herbs are so wonderfully spritely and summery, and the combo, with or without alcohol, is a guaranteed refresher! Try the Lemon-Thyme Shortbread in the same post for your own little backyard party! 


VICKI DELANY: I've been known to enjoy a glass of wine or two (or three) on occasion.  I don't drink juices or pop, so my non-alcoholic drinks are limited to water and tea and coffee.  I also don't drink beer so my search for something to drink in developing countries can sometimes be a novel in itself. Tea for me is always hot and coffee is usually hot, but not always.  Last New Years Eve I posted a recipe for a celebration Champagne cocktail, and I served it last week when I had a small pool party (yup, it rained, so the pool part was a bit of a wash-out, if you'll pardon the pun.)  I added a cube of ice and a small perfect strawberry to each glass to give it a summer feel. Perfect for a sultry summer afternoon around the pool.  Mystery Lovers' Kitchen: champagne cocktail (

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LUCY BURDETTE: Coming from the land of Hemingway in Key West, I have to go with mojito. We grow a big pot of mint year around, which makes the recipe easier. This past winter I discovered that the bartender's secret to the best mojito is to use a simple syrup (aka sugar melted into water.) Here's the recipe, and cheers!


PEG COCHRAN/MARGARET LOUDON: We were in Italy several years ago and it was HOT. We purchased straw hats to shade our faces and learned about the fountains in Rome where you could refill your water bottle with cool, refreshing water. There's nothing quite like water to slake your thirst. You can also pat it on your face to cool you down! But when we wanted something a little more festive, we would stop at an outdoor café and order an Aperol Spritz. What a great discovery! It's a mixture of Aperol, which is an aperitif, Prosecco and sparkling water. Aperol is a lovely orange color making for a very attractive drink. It was cooling and not so alcoholic that you staggered out of the bar after one drink. We had no compunction about stopping for one at eleven a.m. after a morning of sightseeing. In Italy they are served with a wedge of orange and a green olive. I've shared a recipe here. Salute!


MARY JANE MAFFINI: I love everyone's refreshing summer options today. There really is something delicious and colorful for everyone. When I started doing extra exercises during the you-know-what, I found I got a bit ‘twingy’. A bit of research indicated that tart cherry juice (not at all the same as regular cherry juice) might be helpful and, in my case, it sure made a difference. However, that tart taste definitely needs a ‘friend’ to make it go down easy: I team it with sparkling water. What started out as a little problem-solver turned out to be very refreshing on a hot and humid night, especially served in a wine glass. Then if everyone else is glugging red wine, I can be just like the other kids. By the way, if that’s still too tart, it’s also great teamed with ginger ale, but the wine glass remains essential. 

What started out as a little problem-solver turned out to be a favorite summer drink. My former fave was ice coffee frappé. My hubby and I drank them by the gallon the summer we discovered them. At the end of the summer, although cool and refreshed, we were each ten pounds heavier. I think I can trust Team Sparkling and Tart not to have the same outcome.

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TINA KASHIAN: I love the virgin white sangria. I prefer hot tea over coffee. So my favorite summer drink is home brewed iced tea. It’s perfect for a sweltering summer day. South Jersey is having a steamy day today and this is what I’m drinking. Enjoy the remaining days of August! 

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What about all of you? 
Do you have a favorite summer drink or
refreshing drink idea to share
 for these last, lazy days of summer 
(with or without alcohol)?


To be entered in this week's drawing
for the five terrific mysteries below,
join us in the comments on this topic.

Include your email address,
so we can contact the winner!

Comments Open through
Friday, August 20



> KEY LIME CRIME (audio edition)
by Lucy Burdette

> KILLING THYME by Leslie Budewitz 

by Maddie Day

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  1. My favorite summer drink is lemonade.
    Kitten143 (at) Verizon (dot) net

    1. You can’t beat a good lemonade on a hot day

  2. My favorite summer drink is iced tea (actually we drink it year around where I live). I especially like flavored iced tea. A new iced tea shop just opened in my town. They have 24 flavors of iced tea. I’m having fun trying all the flavors! cking78503(at)aol(dot)com

    1. That does sound like fun! I make iced tea at least every other day in the summer.

  3. I like to puree watermelon and cucumber, mix in low-sugar lemonade, and garnish with mint. Very refreshing. gardenmonky(at)comcast(dot)net

    1. Trader Joe's sells a watermelon-cucumber juice this time of year. Very yummy.

  4. A sparkling water which has a wonderful flavor. Lemon-lime is lovely and another is ginger and berry.saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

  5. Years ago while traveling, we stayed at a Drury Inn where they have what they call "kickback" every evening serving both free food and drinks. This is where I was introduced to what they called the "Skittle". However, I must warn you that it's unlike what you get if you google it - which is what I did when we got home. It wasn't until later trips and asking questions that I discovered the ingredients.

    Their skillet was made of orange juice, sprite, vodka, grenadine and a splash of sweet and sour shaken and served over ice and topped with cherries. I found I was more into the fruit and sweet flavors than the vodka and started getting them in the virgin form.

    At home I started experimenting and at times I've added pineapple or cranberry juice and worked on what proportions of each I enjoyed the most. So remember there are no set rules, but rather do what suits your tastes the best. Over the years, even Drury doesn't served them quite the same way they use to. With change of staff, they now go more by a chart and slightly different ingredients.

    So all in all, I'm saying I enjoy fruity and sweet drinks. Now in the heat of summer, nothing tastes quite as good as a big tall glass of fresh squeezed lemonade! I also enjoy a diet version of cold citrus green tea.
    2clowns at arkansas dot net

  6. Good morning ladies. Fun to see where every one sits on liquor. I have never been a drinker. Iced Tea and Hot Tea and water are my drinks. When I go out with some friends, I will have a virgin strawberry margarita. LOL My husband will go through a large bottle of wine in a years time. LOL quilting dash lady at comcast dot net

  7. We enjoy an Aperol spritz a couple times a month in the summer, sitting on the porch before dinner. Refreshing and tasty.

    During watermelon season my husband has started making watermelon and rum cocktails in the blender. They're good even without the alcohol.

    k maslowski at fuse dot net

    1. I love the sound of that watermelon-rum cocktail, Karen!

  8. My favorite summer drInk is lavender lemonade - it is absolutely amazing!

  9. I like simple lemonade. Or a slushy margarita or strawberry daquari for the really hot days.

  10. All these sound so crisp and refreshing. I plan on trying some this summer on those hot days!! Thank you all for your ideas.

  11. My favorite is a Bloody Mary my grandfather used to make. Lovely 2 pinches of Vodka blended with spiced tomato juice. I am not much of a drinker but this is my go to in the late summer.

  12. I loved the spiked sangria while living in Spain. Now it's usually just ice tea w/lemon or mixed w/lemonade, sometimes with whatever fresh fruit is available dumped in.

  13. I drink hot coffee and hot tea year round. It's hot and you perspire so you cool down in the summer, in the winter you are warmed. grammyd01 at comcast dot net

    1. That's why farmers and ranchers carry that hot thermos of coffee on even the hottest days -- oddly cooling.