Watermelon-Basil Agua Fresca

_MG_5007 _MG_5003When I studied abroad in Cuernavaca, Mexico during high school I encountered many new things. It was the first time I had ever been away from home for more than a week, and the first time I had ever spent any time in a foreign country without my family. The experience shaped my love of travel, and, of course, food. Growing up in Minnesota, it was hard to find really authentic Mexican food (although, El Burrito Mercado in St. Paul is pretty fantastic), and I hadn't been exposed to much of it before I left for Cuernavaca. Apart from the amazing tacos and mole that my host mother made, one of the things I remember the most from that trip was when I tried aguas frescas for the first time. Horchata remains my favorite, but the other aguas, made from cantaloupe, pineapple, and of course, watermelon, are always the perfect accompaniment to spicy guacamole and burritos. I have seen multiple recipes and they always looked pretty simple, but I hadn't ever tried making them until last week found me with an excess of basil and watermelon. Simple as can be, and they went perfectly with the fried fish tacos I made that night.

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Watermelon-Basil Agua Fresca (adapted from Imbibe)

4 cups seedless watermelon, cut into 2-inch cubes

1/4 cup fresh basil leaves

1 cup water

Juice of 1 lime

1 tablespoon sugar

Blend watermelon, basil and water on high for 1 minute, or until watermelon is crushed. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a pitcher, then stir in lime juice and sugar. Serve iced.

Peach-Bourbon Smash

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_MG_4949You probably know from previous posts, that I enjoy a glass of wine every so often. But sometimes during the summer, nothing tastes better than a crisp cocktail. A good cocktail doesn't need to be complex (some of my favorites, like Mint Juleps & French 75's only have a few ingredients) but while produce is at it's best, why not switch it up a little and use those peaches for a before-dinner drink instead of a pie? I would recommend using especially ripe peaches, as they are the main flavor you taste (besides the bourbon, of course). Next time, I might try switching out the mint with basil, and adding a float of prosecco on the top instead of club soda for a little more interest.

And while starting off Monday morning with a cocktail recipe may seem like cruel and unusual punishment, doesn't it make you excited to go home and try it? Not a bad way to start off the week, in my opinion.

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Peach-Bourbon Smash (adapted from The Kitchn), makes 1 cocktail

1/4 - 1/2 peach, cut into thick slices 3 or 4 fresh mint or basil leaves 1 lemon wedge 1 ounce water 1/2 ounce simple syrup 2 ounces bourbon or whiskey 1-2 ounces club soda 1 peach slice, for garnish

Muddle all ingredients except whiskey in a cocktail shaker. Add ice and whiskey. Shake and strain into an ice-filled old fashioned glass and top with club soda. Garnish with a peach slice.