The weather is in that sweet spot right now in Missouri, the sun is out every day, the humidity is low and the temperatures are in the 70s and 80s. We’re not into those dog days of summer yet and the chilly, wet spring weather appears to be behind us.
We’re spending more time outside our house, me in the garden and my husband taking care of the lawn and car. Even though it’s not oppressively hot outside, it’s still easy to work up a sweat when you’re digging in a garden or scrubbing a car.
Although there’s nothing quite so nice as a cold pilsner or wheat beer after being outside, since we’re sticking with non-alcoholic drinks for the most part this summer, I’ve been thinking of ways to make thirst-quenching beverages we can enjoy in our backyard or after a hard day of working in the sun. Last summer I played around with a recipe for a sparkling water, mint and watermelon drink, which was delicious in its own right, but this year I’ve seen a lot of information about making cocktails and mocktails using botanicals. In fact, when I went to the Butterfly House in March, I oohed and aahed over botanical syrups and botanical cocktail recipe books.
One of the most important things for me when thinking about making a botanical-infused mocktail is to forage the ingredients. As I’ve been outside more this spring, I have been intoxicated with the lovely scent of honeysuckle and that scent reminded me of a memory, of how I used to sip the nectar from the stems when I was a little girl.
I did some Googling and learned that dried honeysuckle flowers make a delicious tea, which you can then turn into a variety of drinks, including an orangeade, which is a sweeter take on lemonade. I gathered the honeysuckle, let the petals dry on a towel, and then steeped it in a French press with raw honey and orange peels.
Once it was cool, to each glass I added half a freshly squeezed orange and ice cubes. I’m not one for measuring or using recipes, I tend to eyeball things, but here’s a recipe for orangeade that’s similar to what I used.
It was so delicious that I forgot to snap a picture of the finished product, but the flavor was pleasantly orange and slightly sweet, and resembled a mellow wheat beer that you often pair with an orange wedge (like Blue Moon). If you can still find honeysuckle in bloom in your area, pick it and let the petals dry for several days before using, just be sure to pick it from an area that’s in a field rather than a roadside so you’re getting the cleanest flower petals as possible! As always, if you try foraging honeysuckle, I wanna hear about it! Leave a comment or connect with me on social media!