A summer barbecue is nothing like a spa. If you were making a venn diagram for the words “spa” and “summer barbecue”, it would look like two circles with four inches between them.
That is, unless we’re talking about a barbecue to which you’ve brought a big, cold pitcher of spa water. Spa water, the artist formerly known as infused water, is just an aquarium with chunks of fruit (or sweet, watery veggies) swimming around instead of fish. After soaking for at least a handful of hours, the fruit imbues humble tap water with a natural tinge of flavor like a DIY Lacroix. They often serve it at fancy spas, while you lie around in big fluffy robes post-treatment, reacclimating to reality, hence the name. It also looks pretty. But the best part is, you really can’t go wrong. Throw some fruit, any fruit, in a pitcher of water Saturday night, refrigerate the mixture, and it’ll be deliciously infused the next day. Of course, we have a few suggestions for where to start.
Cucumber + lemon + mint + ginger
An update on traditional cucumber spa water! Be sure to peel your cucumbers before you slice them, because the skin can add a bitter tinge to your water. Peel the ginger too. If you’re in a pinch, you can use a couple bags of ginger tea instead.
Strawberries + watermelon + basil
Kind of like a margarita, mostly like a salad. To get the most out of your basil, muddle them in the bottom of your pitcher or hammer them with the back of a spoon. (Just like how hammering eucalyptus for a fragranced shower releases their scent, treating your herb leaves this way loosens their natural oils for max flavor.) May or may not still be good with a salt rim.
Blackberries + lemon + lavender
Want to be an overachiever? Muddle blackberries and lavender at the bottom of your pitcher before pouring over some water and popping it into the fridge. Instead of squeezing lemon directly into the pitcher too, make ice cubes out of their juice and freeze overnight. In the morning, strain your infused water, add your lemon ice cubes, and serve immediately.
Of course, there are a million other flavor combinations to experiment with. Raspberry and lime? Or cherry and lime? Yum. Peach and blueberry? So summery. Orange slices and a vanilla bean?! Maybe! Experiment with what’s in your fridge or what’s at your local farmer’s market.
Muddle the fruit for a more flavorful, albeit pulpier, drinking experience or cut delicate slices. You can pour the infused water into popsicle molds, use sparkling water instead, or for a less kid-friendly version, swap out water for spiked seltzer. Then, when kids are screaming, the griller’s getting a faceful of smoke, and everyone else is either swimming or swimming in sweat, pour yourself a glass. Your own spa moment! Ahh.
Photo via ITG