Well, it’s officially summer, folks. Temperatures are rising, and I’m pleased to report that people are already parading around the city half-naked. (They are apparently unaware/unconcerned that they are not yet tan enough to do this.) While I love many things about summer, including the high hemlines, the heat is not one of them.
First of all, I run hot. By this I mean that I’m always much warmer than anybody else at any given time. Luckily, I’ve learned not to ask people, “Is it hot in here, or is it just me?” because a.) it sounds creepy, and b.) it is always just me. And not in a complimentary way.
Based on my hot-bloodedness, I’m pretty sure my body wasn’t built to handle temperatures above 80 degrees. Anything higher than that, and I start to sweat immediately, which is both uncomfortable and unattractive. Sweating is one of my least favorite things, and I do my best to avoid it all costs, but it’s unavoidable in New York City from June through August. You know that saying, “Women don’t sweat, they glow“? I glow hard. Fact.
Don’t get me wrong, dry summer heat in a place like Maine or California is totally fine by me. However, NYC heat is a completely different beast. It’s sticky and oppressive, and it feels like you’re walking through hot soup. I usually have about five minutes before my clothes stick to me, my hair frizzes and my mascara starts to run. So, I basically spend the majority of the summer in NYC being mistaken for Ke$ha. Not my best look.
Unless I’m getting a tan and/or monetary compensation for braving the heat, I prefer to stay in my shoebox apartment, which is kept at a comfortable 63 degrees at all times. However, I realize that I cannot realistically stay inside all summer without doing some serious damage to my career social life. Therefore, I have decided to institute a reward-based system to motivate myself to go outside. For example, if I spend one hour outside, I get one Lemon Mint Iced Tea with Rum when I get home. This system shall go into effect immediately.
Lemon Mint Iced Tea with Rum is probably my favorite summer drink. This cocktail was actually inspired by my mother’s badass iced tea recipe, which she used to make in mass quantities every summer. It kept me happy and hydrated while I did important things like read Judy Blume novels and cultivate the perfect tan. The tea is minty, sweet (but not too sugary), and incredibly refreshing. It’s like a classy Arnold Palmer, which is pretty much the ultimate crowd-pleaser.
I added rum to this recipe because I like booze. However, I recommend keeping a virgin pitcher of Lemon Mint Iced Tea in the fridge, and then adding rum to individual servings. That way you can enjoy it anytime you want a refreshing weekday beverage and/or give it to children. (You know I’m trying to be more kid-friendly these days).
Lemon Mint Iced Tea is the perfect thing to serve by the gallon at summer barbecues and cocktail parties. It looks particularly pretty garnished with fresh mint and lemon slices, and it’s ridiculously easy to make. This iced tea is exactly what you need to beat the heat. If nothing else, the rum will make you care slightly less about being sweaty in public. Works for me. Happy Summer, friends!
*Full disclosure, I’ve already had one of these cocktails today, so we are testing the aforementioned reward system in reverse. I shall definitely leave the apartment this afternoon. Maybe. Depends.
Lemon Mint Iced Tea: (Serves 8)
2 quarts boiling water
8 Earl Grey Tea Bags
2 cups fresh mint leaves, packed (plus more for garnish)
½ cup fresh lemon juice
½ cup sugar
1 cup good quality rum (I always use Mount Gay) … or more, depending on your tastes/partying habits
For garnish (optional):
Fresh mint sprigs
1 lemon, thinly sliced and seeds removed
Preparing your Lemon Mint Iced Tea:
-Remove the tags from the tea bags and tie them all together. (My mom taught me this trick.)
-Boil 2 quarts water in a kettle or a pot. When boiling, remove from the heat and add the tea bags and the fresh mint leaves. Cover and allow to steep for at least 20 minutes. If you have the time, let it steep for up to an hour. The longer the tea bags and mint can steep, the better. Duh.
-While your tea is steeping, heat sugar and fresh lemon juice until the sugar dissolves and the liquid becomes clear. Set aside.
-Once the tea is steeped, strain it into a large pitcher, discarding the mint and tea bags. Mix in the lemon simple syrup and refrigerate until cool.
-When your iced tea is cool, add some fresh mint and lemon slices to the pitcher if you like. You can now pour the rum into the pitcher OR you can add rum to individual cocktails. Serve your iced tea over ice. Garnish with a lemon slice or two and a sprig of fresh mint for flair.