Summer Guide 2017: The pause that refreshes

Go booze-free to beat the heat.

Chris Fasick

Want to make your own booze-free beverage at home? Try this recipe from CL's On the Sauce columnist Chris Fasick.

Basil Lemonade Mocktail

Makes 1

Lemon-Basil Simple Syrup:

1 cup sugar

1 cup water

12 fresh basil leaves

1 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice

In a saucepan, melt equal parts sugar and water over medium heat. After the sugar is dissolved, add basil and reduce heat to simmer. Allow to simmer for 5 minutes, then remove from heat and stir in lemon juice.

Mocktail:

4 ounces lemon-basil simple syrup

4 ounces water

Add ice, simple syrup and water to a pint glass. Pour between two glasses to mix. And for an extra fruity kick — muddle 2 strawberries and stir.

click to enlarge UNION72's signature grilled lemonade calls for caramelized lemons. - UNION72
UNION72
UNION72's signature grilled lemonade calls for caramelized lemons.

The thing about alcohol in the summertime, refreshing as it might seem at first, is that it can tend to make you warmer, and thirstier. But lots of local eating and drinking emporia offer delicious boozeless alternatives. Here are a few.

GRILLED LEMONADE at UNION72 Better than this Shops at Wiregrass barbecue restaurant's craft soda fountain is its grilled lemonade. CL Food Critic Jon Palmer Claridge visited UNION72 back in December and raved about the secret of the non-alcoholic wonder: caramelized lemons, which are chilled, squeezed and then infused with lavender. "The result is memorable, and we're all abuzz," Claridge wrote. 2000 Piazza Ave. #150, Wesley Chapel, 813-575-9999, union72.com.

LAVENDER LEMONADE at PIA'S TRATTORIA Another lavender-inflected lemonade that shouldn't be missed. If this is the featured flavor the next time you're at Pia's, order a bottle. Immediately. Among the rotating lemonades owner Pia Goff makes in-house with fresh lemon juice (and of course she does; it is a Southern Italian eating house, after all), lavender is her best one yet. The drink is nuanced and refreshing and exactly what you'll need while excitedly scarfing down any of the no-frills dishes. 3054 Beach Blvd. S., Gulfport, 727-327-2190, piastrattoria.com.

click to enlarge Among Rowe Bar's "Ades for Any Age" is limeade. - The Don CeSar
The Don CeSar
Among Rowe Bar's "Ades for Any Age" is limeade.

LIMEADE at ROWE BAR Part of the coastal-style Don CeSar bar's house-made "Ades for Any Age," limeade is a great starting point for what's sure to become a drink with a one-of-a-kind flavor profile you didn't know existed. The trick is to spice up the limeade with funky add-ons like black tea, raspberry and hibiscus black pepper even more than one. And no matter which ade you choose as your base (there's also orange and lemon on hand) the additions produce endless flavor combinations that make experimenting a day at the beach. You'll even likely get a fresh fruit garnish out of it. 3400 Gulf Blvd., St. Pete Beach, 727-360-1881, therowebar.com.

ORANGE SODA at ZEPHRYHILLS BREWING COMPANY Think beer's the only thing this Pasco craft brewery fashions on-site? Surpise! A selection of house sodas — made with pure cane sugar and filtered water — is featured on tap, too. But one of them in particular, the orange soda, is definitely the way to go. With a nostalgia-inducing flavor that's hard to pass up, this boozeless creation is available in 8- or 16-ounce pours, as well as growler fills... when you can catch it. One taste and you'll be reciting: "Who loves orange soda?" 38530 Fifth Ave., Zephyrhills, 813-715-2683, zbcbeer.com.

click to enlarge A cup of pineapple Tidal Boar at downtown St. Pete's Saturday Morning Market. - Meaghan Habuda
Meaghan Habuda
A cup of pineapple Tidal Boar at downtown St. Pete's Saturday Morning Market.

PINEAPPLE GINGER BEER at TIDAL BOAR GINGER BEER The description on Tidal Boar's 12-ounce bottles of low-sugar ginger beer pretty much says it all: "Seriously Crisp, Botanically Fresh, Symphonic Kick of Deliciousness!" Resist the urge to order one of the small-batch company's other tasty-sounding flavors (brewed with fresh ginger root, citrus, berries and spices) on tap and go with pineapple. Fit for summertime, the ridiculously good pineapple ginger beer is regularly featured at Tampa Bay farmers' markets by the glass and growler. Who knew ginger beer could taste so good without the vodka? Various locations, Tampa Bay, tidalboargingerbeer.com.

click to enlarge "Purple Haze, all in my brain..." - Meaghan Habuda
Meaghan Habuda
"Purple Haze, all in my brain..."

PURPLE HAZE at BLACK CROW COFFEE CO. Stay hydrated and caffeinated with this iced coffee from historic Old Northeast's Black Crow. One of the coolest coffee shops in St. Petersburg, the eclectic coffeehouse uses hazelnut and chocolate to pull off the goodness that is Purple Haze, which gets better and better as you sip — and, despite its boozeless qualities, will get all up in your brain (like Jimi Hendrix once said) to keep you buzzing throughout the day. I don't know what it is about chocolate and hazelnut, by the way, but some kind of magic happens when these two collide for the purpose of this drink, an order that also goes great with a Black Crow apple fritter. I'm just saying. 722 Second St. N., St. Petersburg, 727-580-7200, blackcrowcoffeeco.com.

TROPICAL COCONUT KOMBUCHA at MOTHER KOMBUCHA It doesn't get more summery than coconut. That's why you should take advantage of this fizzy flavor of the craft kombucha and switchel brewer, which uses organic, fair-trade teas and organic juices, spices and tinctures to create its lineup of beverages. I tried the tropical coconut living tea from TeBella Tea Company's rotating draft lines at Station House in downtown St. Pete. Good luck ordering just one, but take-home growlers are also on hand. Various locations, Tampa Bay, motherkombucha.com.

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