Summertime is synonymous with cold drinks and great friends, but if you’re tired of the same old cheap beers and discount coolers there are plenty of fun options for the adventurous host.
When it’s hot, there’s nothing better than the natural sweetness of some fresh fruit. I experimented with three feisty fruit recipes that pack a punch beyond vitamin C and are sure to be a hit with any party guest.
First, a simple classic — the vodka watermelon. It doesn’t get more fool-proof than this: ingredients include a bottle of vodka and a watermelon.
The trickiest part of this recipe is cutting the hole in the rind. Ideally, it will just fit the circumference of your bottle’s spout and you’ll be able to upend the bottle and leave it sticking up from the top of your melon. Gravity does all the work after that. I refrigerated my duo, because summertime treats are best served cold, and left it alone for roughly 45 minutes.
Then, slice up the watermelon for finger food with a bite or cube the melon and pop it into a blender with some crushed ice for a slushy sip. Being on a student budget, my taste in vodkas runs toward the cheap and famously unsavory side. However, the subtle sweetness of the watermelon was enough to cut that away.
Next up were tequila pineapple skewers, a recipe I spied in a Food Network magazine. I bought a pineapple, some limes, wooden skewers, chili powder, salt and tequila. Learning to properly cut the pineapple into appealing, skewer-sized cubes required some YouTube research.
The cubes went into a re-purposed bread pan covered in tequila and chilled in the fridge for an hour. Then, in the name of recycling, I drained the pineapple slices while saving the excess tequila for later usage. I dipped one side of each into a mix of chili powder and salt and put three or four on each skewer with a wedge of lime as a bookend. It looked satisfyingly professional.
After I was done admiring the esthetics of my creation, I ate my first chunk. The chili powder and salt combo provided a great kick of spice to counter the sweetness of the pineapple. The tequila was also a strong presence — perhaps too strong, which could be remedied by a shorter soaking time. I tried following one piece with a bite of lime and that helped. These cubes took more time to prepare than the watermelon but looked and tasted more impressive in the end.
The final drunken fruit I attempted was chocolate-covered alcohol-infused strawberries — a much more elaborate recipe than the previous two. One essential piece of equipment is a syringeor a marinade injector, which the average student may not have. If you do though, you’re in for a treat.
You can be creative in your choice of liquor — I paired pink champagne with my large ripe strawberries and a package of white chocolate chips. My first few strawberries overflowed with liquor as I injected them but I learned to go slowly. Then, they went into the freezer to chill while I melted the chocolate.
This is the trickiest part, as chocolate burns easily and congeals unappealingly. I placed the chips into a glass bowl and rested it in my saucepan containing water at a simmering boil. Double boilers also work if you have one. The steam slowly melted the chocolate and I stirred constantly to eradicate lumps.
After the chocolate melted, I set up a sheet of aluminium over a cookie sheet and rested the dipped berries on it as I worked. Then I put the whole thing in the fridge to harden for half an hour.
The result was delicious! The pink champagne worked wonderfully with the other flavors. Given the sweetness of white chocolate, it was almost too much and I may try it with milk or dark chocolate instead. Still, they were an indulgent delicacy with a classy feel.
Entertaining on a student budget can sometimes feel repetitive and routine. These recipes were fun to try, and would be a unique addition to any summertime party without having to break the bank.
Image: Jeremy Britz/Graphics Editor