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Michael Devine Reports: A Summertime Alternative to Tea

This post was written by guest contributor Michael Devine, a New York–based textile designer. Devine's book, An Invitation to the Garden: Entertaining, Cultivating, and Cooking through the Four Seasons, will be published by Rizzoli in the spring of 2014.

With the promise of a sultry season on the horizon, my thoughts have turned from my winter beverage of choice—hot tea—to cool and refreshing concoctions. I've discovered that different combinations of herbs I grow in the garden, when infused in simple syrup and then mixed with seltzer and ice, make wonderfully flavorful summertime drinks. A host of common herbs such as mint, thyme, rosemary, verbena, and lemon balm will do the trick.

The longer these garden herbs steep in the simple syrup, the better. The resulting marriage of sugar, water, and herbs makes not only a great beverage but also a handy marinade for berries and fruits with which to top summer desserts. A couple of drops will even jazz up a whipped cream. Bonne degustation!

Thyme Mint Syrup
The combination of herbs and sugar makes a refreshing, sweet-savory flavoring that is ideal as a mixer for seltzer or more powerful summertime libations.

Makes 2 cups

2 cups sugar
2 cups water
10 sprigs of mint, rinsed
10 sprigs of thyme, rinsed

In a 1-quart saucepan with lid, combine sugar and water. Bring to a roiling boil over medium heat. Remove pan from heat, add herbs, and stir to mix. Cover with lid and let steep in the refrigerator for 3 hours minimum and overnight for best results. Strain through a paper towel into a sterilized bottle. Seal and refrigerate until well chilled, about 2 hours.

(Photos Michael Devine)To serve, use 1 part thyme mint syrup to 4 parts chilled seltzer, add ice, and garnish with a slice of lemon. Will keep for up to 3 days in a sealed container in the refrigerator.
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