Icy Drinks and Summer Days at the Beach

I know it isn’t quite summer yet, and here in New England, we’re just as likely to still see a random snowflake or have nighttime temps in the 30s as we are to have a good hot sunny beach day. But with so many more sunny days than cloudy, and knowing that in July I’ve planned to have every Friday off, I am hoping beaches in the area open up soon! Well, to be honest, they’re open now, but the parking lots aren’t so considering I don’t live NEAR any of those beaches, they might as well be closed.

the life guard stand on Ogunquit beach
A July day on Ogunquit Beach. Early morning sun is hot already.


A summer beach day in Ogunquit

Last year we went to Ogunquit beach for a day. Truly our one real beach day of the summer. And it was a perfect day. We got their early, found a parking spot, scoped out our spot on the sand and enjoyed a solid two hours of sunshine, salt air, walking in the icy cold water (that’s Maine for you!), and when the sun got a bit too hot, we headed over to Perkins Cover to have lunch at M.C. Perkins Cove. It is one of my favorite places. We opted to sit out on the roof deck and have a selection of appetizers and some amazing Clementine Martinis. That place infuses their own vodka, and they were setting up the seafood bar for the evening, so we could watch them putting out crushed ice, setting out oysters, clams, and just enjoy an afternoon of leisure.

Well, these aren’t the martinis we had, but you get the idea.

Oh, did I say this was a Friday? And there is NOTHING like heading to the beach on a day you’re supposed to be working. At one point a couple sitting at a table pointed and we all caught the tail fin of a whale just off the shore. I’d never seen one so close before, but Perkins Cove does do a lot of whale-watches. At least it looked like a whale, and after a few martinis, perhaps a dolphin can look like a whale!

Was that a whale? Did you see it? Maybe a dolphin?


Summers in Maine

I also remember the many summers my family would spend up in Maine at the beach. My aunt (yes, if you’ve been following my blog, “that aunt”) and uncle had a camper in one of those beachside “campgrounds” near Long Beach in York. We’d stay there and walk across the street to the beanch. Then they bought a double house lot in the woods about a mile from Short Beach. They parked their camper there permanently, added a screen porch and picnic tables and stayed there pretty much all summer. We used to go up to camp there over 4th of July, or spend a weekend off and on. We’d walk down to the beach for the day, and never missed a chance to stop in at the Goldenrod for saltwater taffy. There was a great arcade, too, where we’d play Skeeball and win tickets we could turn in for keychains, flashlights, or other cheap items.

people at the beach
early summer and the beach is not so packed first thing in the morning!

We’d stop into the local craft place to buy silver jewelry (I think I bought 5 different silver knot rings one summer) and wander through the shop/museum that used to be just off the beach. That shop had a stuffed two-headed cow, some amazing preserved fish, glass jars filled with eels and shark teeth, and more seashells, and trinkets than anyone thought would fit into that building. We’d pack a lunch, and some cold drinks but since we were walking a good mile plus to the beach, and then had to carry everything back with us, we didn’t pack thoughtfully.


Eating at the beach

Now when I go to the beach, I’m trying to keep food and drinks cold. My plan is to avoid running into high-priced beachside seafood places or standing in long lines for a cold hamburger and a popsicle. My solution? Making cold drinks ahead of time and freezing them solid. Then using THEM to keep my other food cold. As the frozen beverage melts, you’ve got something to drink but until it’s totally melted, you’ve also got something keeping your cooler cold! And when you head out, you can just carry the empty container so you’re not littering the beach or trying to cram paper cups and straws into an already overstuffed trash container.

Signs at the beach, Please leave nothing but your footprints
Pack in Pack Out!

Frozen Cooler Drink Ideas

I love fruit in the summer. Berries, melons, citrus. Adding some of these to your drinks will help to keep things frozen longer! I think the best way to carry these concoctions is in straight sided mason jars. They look nice, and can be kept in the freezer for a few weeks if needed. If you’re using mason jars though, make sure they’re straight sided with the freeze/fill line. The curve sided ones can crack with the cold. Plastic containers are also fine if they seal well. Just make certain to leave a bit of space (up to 1″) at the top for expansion when the drink freezes.

ripe red watermelon
sweet and totally summery! Watermelon is a go-to any day of the summer.

Spicy Sweet and Coooooler!

This one will cool you down fast while giving a bit of heat at the same time.

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups watermelon chunks, chilled
  • slice of jalapeno including seeds and skin (1/2″ thick slice)
  • 1 cup watermelon juice
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 oz. lime juice
  • 3 cups ice

Instructions:

  • Place all ingredients in a large blend and blend on high until the ice is crushed.

Ideally you’ll have a few straight-sided mason jars. You can pour the mixture to the freeze/fill line and pop in the freezer overnight. But morning you’ll have the perfect “ice” for your cooler. No mason jar? You can freeze them in plastic containers as well. Just make sure to leave room at the top for expansion as your drink freezes.

fresh mint leaves
Mint makes everything cooler

Minty Iced Tea

Mint is cooling, and throwing some melon in as well gives you a taste of true summer on a hot day.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups water
  • 2 handfuls of fresh mint leaves (I use spearmint but you can use peppermint as well or pineapple mint if you have it!)
  • 6 tsp yerba mate tea leaves
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 – 3 cups diced honeydew melon
  • 2 cups ice cubes

Instructions:

Bring water to a boil. Remove from heat and add mint and yerba mate. Cover and steep for 5 – 7 minutes. Strain the liquid into a large bowl. Stir in sugar.

Put melon in a blender and pulse until well processed. Add ice and tea, and continue to blend to a puree. Pour into your jar or plastic container and freeze.

Try to find a really ripe melon for this as the freezing can cut down on the taste of the melon itself. You can also throw some raspberries or or sliced strawberries in for color once the mix has been blended.

ripe bananas
What to do with ripe bananas? No, not banana bread!

Beachy Palmer

You’ve heard of an Arnold Palmer? Well, this is the Beachy Palmer. Filled with tropical flavor, cooling lemons and you can add a bit of fizz on the beach!

Ingredients:

  • 3 ripe bananas
  • 1/2 can frozen orange juice concentrate, melted
  • 1/4 lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 cups warm water
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3 small cans pure pineapple juice
  • 1 lime sliced thin
  • 2 liter bottle of sprite, chilled (to add at the beach)

Instructions:

  • Pulse the bananas, orange, lemon, and pineapple juice in a blender until well mixed. Add the water and sugar, and blend until smooth. Stir in the lime slices, and place the mixture in your containers, then into the freezer.
  • When you get to the beach, and the mixture has started to thaw, pour sprite in or add to cups before serving. As the container begins to empty, add more sprite. It’s a refreshing, fruity way to cool off!

All of the above can be served with added garnishes, rum, vodka, or your choice of alcohol, but having the family-friendly version offers you the chance to freeze them and share with everyone once you arrive at your summer destination.