Summer refresher: we share recipes for refreshing summer drinks from history and around the world!

Feeling thirsty? We've got a slate of summer drinks that are sure to refresh you: from historic drinks like switchel and shrubs, to lassis and infused water -- we've got projects your kids will want to dive right into.

When it’s dry outside, what’s the thirst quencher you reach for? To celebrate the end of August, we’re sharing recipes for refreshing summer drinks—including a couple of surprising historical refreshers that you can recreate in your kitchen! 

Before ginger ale, there was switchel, also known as ginger water. If you and your child have ever read Laura Ingalls Wilders’ Little House on the Prairie books, you might remember this beverage prepared for hard-working prairie farmers during hay-making season as a kind of 19th-century sports drink. Switchel contains ginger, vinegar and a sweetener such as molasses or honey—the idea was that the ginger would warm your stomach (the Victorians believed cold water was too much of a shock to the system when you were overheated), and the vinegar would help take the edge off your thirst. Try out a modern version here.

Shrubs—essentially fruit syrup preserved with vinegar or “drinkable vinegar” - are historic drinks that are just coming back into fashion. Shrubs have a long history—the word actually comes from the Arabic “sharbah” for “drink”, the same root that English gets words like syrup and sherbet from. They’re easy to make at home since they take 10 minutes or less of actual prep (but be warned that they do take time to cool down or infuse in your fridge). Once the syrup’s ready, you can combine flavours with carbonated water to find your family’s favourite flavour combos—we like celery shrub. Your kids will definitely enjoy making guests guess at what the trick to the tangy-sour taste is!

Or, keep it simple and let your kids experiment with infused water: just take your favourite fruits, herbs or greens and immerse them in your glass of water or water bottle for a pop of bright flavour. Get your kids to try taste testing their infused waters to guess the flavours, and try combos like watermelon/lime; orange/blackberry; cucumber/mint; or lemon/strawberry.

For a creamier drink that's sure to cool you down in hot weather, try a drink with a long tradition on the Indian sub-continent: mango lassi. (We also like this BC variation that uses local blueberries!) The milk in lassi is what makes it a fantastic rehydration drink—in fact, some surprising recent research suggests that milk can keep you better hydrated than water.


If you’re curious to read more about historic refreshers, hearken back to our History of Lemonade (and try some of our variations for yourself!) or cool off with this read about the amazing history of the ice trade—your kids might be surprised by the story of how we learned to like ice in our drinks. For more delicious reads, check out our round-ups of cool summer recipes (and easy outdoor cooking!) And of course, for daily cooking inspiration, please head to our Facebook and Instagram feeds.

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