Summer is fast approaching, and the need to stay well hydrated is never so important. Warmer weather also brings new ideas for beverages – white wines, summer cocktails, iced lattes and summer fruit juices. And, what we snack on with our beverages of choice is just as important, especially as we head outdoors and look more to “transportable” food.
There is nothing better than nuts when it comes to snacks to have with drinks – they are sustaining, healthy, delicious and very transportable. And you can spice them up or down to your heart’s content.
Here are some ideas to pair nuts with your favorite summer drinks.
Rosè fills glasses as warmer weather approaches. Interestingly, both Rosè and hazelnuts grow in abundance in the South of France and happen to pair beautifully together. Try roasted hazelnuts mixed with dried cranberries.
Experts agree, sparkling wine and almonds are made for each other. The density of the almond and toasty notes balance the bubbly effervescence and wine’s own character. Macadamia’s buttery texture and soft rich flavor are also a wonderful pairing.
Crisp white wines are often the go-to in warmer weather – Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris, Pinot Grigio, Albarino – just to name a few. Picture a cheese plate with pistachios and roasted cashews. The rich sweetness of the nuts is a perfect offset for the wine’s fresh finish.
Pinot Noir is often the red of choice in summer and pecans are the perfect match. Perhaps chop with raisins and press into a log or balls for a real treat!
Relaxing with a cocktail seems synonymous with warm weather, and a side of nuts is always welcome.
Think of cooling cucumber lemonade with mint and a dash of vodka, or an apple martini – both incredibly lovely with a side of walnuts (think Waldorf Salad), especially if they are roasted and have a light dusting of dried herbs such as dill, cumin and salt. And, a Bloody Mary with spicy pecans is a special occasion in itself. Simply toss pecans with oil to coat, dust with chili powder and roast until aromatic.
Are you a Gin and Tonic fan? Why not replicate some of the botanicals as a dusting for almonds, hazelnuts or macadamias – ground juniper (go light), coriander, cardamom, lime and orange zest.
Have you heard of orgeat syrup? This is a non-alcoholic, almond-based syrup that you can make yourself using almonds (you can substitute any nut), sugar, brandy and orange water. It’s what makes a Mai Tai a Mai Tai. But imagine a Tequila, lime juice, orange bitters and pistachio orgeat? Or a Cognac and Rye Whisky with an Italian herbal liqueur, bitters and walnut orgeat? Does it bring out the mixologist in you?
Except for the true coffee purists, iced espresso, coffee and chocolate drinks are wonderful as we head to summer, and iced tea is one of the most refreshing drinks there is!
A Latte, Affogato and Iced Chocolate are delightful when you add some shaved roasted Brazil nuts. The notes of the nuts bring out the sweetness and chocolate undertones of the coffee. You could make a dense Brazil “cake” by dicing the nuts with dates and coconut, pressing into a lined tin, and then when chilled and firm, slicing into bars.
Plain iced tea begs a lighter nut such as raw almonds; Asian style teas love cashew shortbread; and Earl Grey tea with walnut bread is divine!
You don’t have to sign on to the “pressed” craze to simply enjoy some of spring and summer’s produce in a refreshing drink. Even just a squeeze of lemon or lime in sparkling water, with a dash of bitters, makes hydrating a joy.
And, nuts will give you a healthy boost of nutrients and sustenance between meals without weighing you down. So, no matter what your fruit or vegetable juice preference, a bowl of mixed nuts will be a wonderful complement – whether on the trail, a picnic, your deck relaxing or sitting and working.