With rising temps and longer days comes the urge to whip up tasty cold drinks. This summer, say goodbye to plain Jane lemonade with agua de panela, as it’s known in Colombia: a simpler lemon or lime water sweetened with panela, the “original” brown sugar. Its delicate caramel flavors compliment the zingy blend of citrus juices for a beverage that’s more substantial, and a little less sweet, than standard lemonade. Plus, it’s a fantastic pick-me-up on a hot afternoon. Add this simple syrup to water, serve with a splash of seltzer, or shake it up with your favorite spiced rum or whisky and serve over ice alongside avocado dip and plantain chips for your own tropical happy hour.
Papelón con Limon Simple Syrup
Makes 2 cups of concentrate syrup for approximately 10 to 12 drinks
1 pound panela (look for rich amber-hued blocks, discs, or cones of panela anywhere Latin America grocery goods are sold, often stocked near dry goods)
2 cups cold water
½ cup each freshly squeezed lime juice and lemon juice
Chop panela into roughly ½”-thick chunks. For easier cutting, use a fresh cake and chop immediately after unwrapping. The texture is dense and crumbly and can be easily sliced with a chef’s knife. Transfer to a saucepan, cover with the water, and bring to an active simmer over medium heat. Stir occasionally until panela has completely dissolved, about 5 to 10 minutes. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature.
With a fine mesh sieve, strain the lime and lemon juices, then funnel them into a clean glass bottle (33-oz. or larger). Add the cooled panela syrup, seal the bottle, and gently shake to combine. Keep chilled (for up to two months). For each serving, stir 2 or 3 tablespoons of panela into a tall glass of cold water. Garnish with plenty of ice and a slice of lime. For an adult beverage, measure an ounce of dark rum, whisky, or vodka into a cocktail shaker along with 2 to 3 tablespoons of syrup, an ounce of seltzer, a shake of your favorite bitters, and plenty of ice. Shake and strain into a small cocktail glass and garnish with a slice of lime or a sliver of candied ginger.
BY TERRY HOPE ROMERO
PHOTOGRAPHED BY TARA DONNE
This article originally appeared in the June/July 2017 print edition of BUST Magazine. Subscribe today!
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