Herbal essences: Adding a hint of flavor to cool drinks

Published: Tuesday, July 24 2012 5:29 p.m. MDT

Add the basil to the pitcher or lemonade. Refrigerate for 1-2 hours. Pour the lemonade through a strainer to remove the spent leaves.

Serve over crushed ice, with basil sprigs for garnish, if desired.

Makes 4-6 servings.

— Valerie Phillips

Thyme Out Ginger Ale

This is for those who prefer more "edge" than sweetness.

1 12-ounce can diet ginger ale soda

1 small sprig thyme, finely chopped

Place the thyme in a glass with crushed ice. Pour the ginger ale over the ice and thyme. Serves 1.

—Valerie Phillips

Watermelon-Basil Cooler

6-7 cups seedless watermelon, in chunks (about 1/3 of a medium-size watermelon)

1-2 sprigs basil leaves (about 2 tablespoons)

Pinch of salt

Place the melon in a blender with the basil leaves. Puree until mixture is smooth. Refrigerate until well-chilled before serving, or serve over ice.

Makes about 2-3 servings.

— Valerie Phillips

Rosemary Lemonade or Limeade

1 can frozen lemonade or limeade concentrate (or 1 package diet lemonade mix), prepared according to package directions

3-4 sprigs rosemary, chopped (about 1/4 cup)

Mix the rosemary with the lemonade. Let steep in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours. Strain into a pitcher. Serve over crushed ice, garnished with rosemary sprigs. Makes 4-6 servings.

— Valerie Phillips

Rosemary Grape Chiller

1 can frozen white grape juice concentrate, prepared according to package directions

3-4 sprigs rosemary, chopped (about 1/4 cup)

Mix the grape juice and rosemary. Chill in the refrigerator 1-2 hours. Strain into a pitcher. Serve over crushed ice, garnished with rosemary sprigs. Makes 4-6 servings.

— Valerie Phillips

Berry Basil Spritzer

1-2 cups frozen or fresh berries, such as blueberries, raspberries or chopped strawberries

2 liter bottle club soda or diet lemon-lime soda, well-chilled

4-6 sprigs basil

Divide the berries evenly among 4 to 6 glasses, depending on how large your glasses are. Pour the soda over the berries. Add a sprig of basil to each drink as a garnish.

— Valerie Phillips

Minted Ginger Ale (or Non-Alcoholic Mint Julep)

1 cup crushed ice

2 tablespoons lime juice, or to taste

1 can diet or regular ginger ale

1 large mint sprig

Place 1/2 cup of the crushed ice in each of 2 glasses. Add 1 tablespoon of the lime juice to each glass. Pour ginger ale over the ice, and add a large mint sprig. Serves 2.

Options: You may want to add one or two chopped mint leaves to each glass for more mint flavor.