To some, this may sound like a completely crazy proposition, but the combination of sweet and savory elements is one of the hottest new culinary trends, especially with regards to desserts and drinks. Berries covered with a salty caramel, chocolate truffles with cracked pepper or even chilies and herb-infused cocktails are just a few examples.
The concept of rosemary infused lemonade, might not be so strange, especially when a herb, like mint, has long been used to add a refreshing tang to both iced tea and lemonade. The piney aroma of rosemary combined with lemon has been a typical flavor profile for Mediterranean cooking and can bring a beautiful outdoors savor to a cold glass of lemonade.
One could simply put a sprig of fresh rosemary in the glass, but this will not impart nearly as much flavor as a rosemary infusion, and making an infusion will maximize any herb’s flavor. It is also far more economical.
An infusion is simply the imparting of a flavor into a liquid. You can add herbs, citrus peel, berries, garlic to any liquid and it will gradually impart flavor to that liquid. In this sense, tea and coffee are no more than infusions, so you have probably been making them for years.
An infusion can be made with water (hot or cold), oil, alcohol or vinegar. Obviously, as in the tea and coffee example, heating the liquid will speed up the process, though letting the tea or coffee steep in room temperature water, will eventually yield some kind of brew, but no one wants to wait a period of weeks for a cup of coffee.
The best method for making a rosemary infusion for lemonade is to infuse a simple sugar syrup. It’s very quick and easy to do and you will need to sweeten the lemonade in any case, so this is a very effective method.
Simple syrup, or sugar syrup is basically made with one cup of sugar to one cup of water. Heat the water in a saucepan and add the sugar, then bring it to a boil, stirring regularly. To make the infusion crush the rosemary and ad to the syrup. The longer you let the herb steep, the more flavor will be imparted. Using fresh rosemary, stems and all is absolutely ideal, as it has much more of its essential oils than the dried variety. Strain the mixture through a wire strainer before using, to avoid bits of herb in your lemonade.
To make the lemonade, squeeze fresh lemons into cold water to your desired strength, and stir in the rosemary-infused simple syrup, until it’s sweet enough for your taste. Pour into a tall glass filled with ice and garnish with a sprig of rosemary or lemon wedge. This can also become a very grown-up drink with a dash of vodka, rum or gin.
Infusing simple syrup can also be the base of a tangy sauce. Using the same simple syrup, add slices of fresh ginger and jalapeño and a dash of Grenadine for color and use for a final glaze for fish, chicken or ham. The options are really endless, as you may infuse flowers, nuts, vanilla bean or any number of herbs.
Rosemary infused lemonade is delicious and makes a great cooler on a summer day or a sophisticated cocktail before dinner. Try this easy recipe and you’ll really beat the heat this summer.