Kaffir Lime-Ginger Spritzer
The unique aroma and flavor of kaffir lime leaves give this limeade a distinct flavor all its own. For the perfect lime-ginger spritzer, "It's all about adjusting the sour and sweet," says its creator, executive chef Haidar Karoum of Asia Nora in the West End. For an alcoholic variation, Karoum recommends the addition of white rum.
1 cup fresh lime juice (from about 8 limes)
1/2 cup Kaffir-Ginger Simple Syrup (recipe follows)
24 ounces sparkling water
Kaffir lime leaves for garnish*
In a pitcher, combine the lime juice, simple syrup and sparkling water and stir vigorously. Pour into chilled glasses and garnish with additional lime leaves.
Kaffir-Ginger Simple Syrup
Makes about 11/4 cups
If there is syrup to spare, Chef Karoum recommends drizzling a little atop sliced strawberries or papaya.
1 cup water
1 cup granulated sugar
4 ounces fresh ginger root, unpeeled, smashed and cut into quarter-size slices (a root the size of a child's hand; about 3/4 cup slices)
8 kaffir lime leaves*
In a small saucepan, bring the water, sugar, ginger and lime leaves to a gentle simmer. Cook for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat; set aside to cool. Cover and refrigerate overnight to allow the flavors to infuse the syrup.
Strain the syrup, discarding the solids.
*Note: Kaffir lime leaves are highly aromatic, with a strong lemon-lime flavor. The fresh leaves are available at many Asian markets and some grocery and specialty food stores.
Imli is the Indian word for tamarind. "That's the ingredient that makes the drink kind of sour and tangy," says Arpad Lengyel, executive chef of the three Teaism cafes in downtown Washington. Add vodka for a tart cocktail.
8 tablespoons tamarind concentrate*
1/4 cup fresh lime juice (from about 3 limes)
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 cup hot water
7 cups cold water
Sugarcane sticks (made from pared and quartered sugarcane stalk) or mint sprigs for garnish
In a pitcher or large bowl, combine the tamarind, lime juice, brown sugar and cardamom. Add the hot water and stir until the sugar is completely dissolved and there are no lumps. Add the cold water and stir. Cover and refrigerate until chilled through, 2 to 3 hours.
Stir or shake to mix before serving. Serve over ice and garnish with sugar cane sticks or a mint sprig.
*NOTE: Tamarind concentrate is available at many Asian supermarkets and some grocery and specialty food stores. See box above.
Ginger-Lemon Iced Tea
Aulie Bunyarataphan, chef-owner of Bangkok Joe's in Georgetown and T.H.A.I. in Shirlington, created this sweet and lemony ginger tea to complement her spicy dishes. At Bangkok Joe's a ginger-lemon iced tea with a 2-ounce shot of Absolut Citron and 2 ounces of Southern Comfort is called a Bangkok Swing.
8 cups water
3 black or Lipton tea bags
1 medium-size fresh ginger root (about 4 ounces) smashed and cut into chunks (about 3/4 cup chunks)
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
Lemon wedges and/or slices fresh ginger root for garnish
In a saucepan over medium heat, bring the water, tea bags and ginger to a gentle boil. Cook for 15 minutes. Add the sugar and lemon juice and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Remove from the heat and strain the tea into bowl or pitcher, discarding the solids.
Set aside to cool slightly. Cover and refrigerate until chilled through, at least 2 to 3 hours.
Serve over ice with a lemon wedge and slice of fresh ginger.
Lemon Grass Green Tea
At Rice restaurant on 14th Street NW, owner Sak Pollert pairs matcha -- powdered green tea -- with lemon grass for a very different and refreshing drink. Add Champagne or sparkling wine for a green tea aperitif.
2 stalks lemon grass
6 cups water
1 tablespoon matcha*
8 tablespoons granulated sugar, or to taste
Lemon slices or lemon grass stalks for garnish
Cut the lemon grass into 3-inch pieces and, using the flat side of a chef's knife, smash the stalks.
In a saucepan over medium heat, bring the water and lemon grass to a gentle boil. Cook for 8 minutes. Add the matcha and sugar and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Taste and adjust the amount of sugar accordingly. Strain the tea into a bowl or pitcher, discarding the solids.
Set aside to cool slightly. Cover and refrigerate until chilled through, at least 2 hours. Serve over ice and garnish with a slice of lemon or a stalk of lemon grass.
*NOTE: Matcha (MAH-tchah) is a powdered green tea. It is available at Japanese markets and tea stores.