Drink it Up

It is carnival and fair time!  Unfortunately, covid has cancelled a lot of these celebrations this year.  That doesn’t mean you have to miss out on the fair foods though!  I am going to put together a series of columns with fun fair foods you can make at home.  I know it won’t quite be the same, but it will allow you to enjoy some of your favorites without paying so much for them!

As you walked the fairways in fairs past, you couldn’t help but be drawn in by the sights and smells around you.  Tents of livestock and petting zoos assaulted your senses.  Vendors hawked goods from personalized caricatures and purses to pewter unicorns, from jewelry cleaner to wooden carvings to knives.  Information booths were spaced throughout as well from politicians to wildlife preservation to first responders.  News outlets and radio stations set up and did live broadcasts throughout the fair.  So busy, so many people, so much sensory assault!

Walking through all these booths is thirsty work.  You could find vendors with soda or water and beer throughout, but it’s the unique vendors I like to look for.  Lemonade from the fair is a different experience from anywhere else.  Homemade root beer or cream soda seriously can’t be beat.  Vendors with craft beer are fun to visit to see what new flavors they came up with-pickle beer is not for me though. There are also fun, fruity alcoholic beverages you can imbibe if you are so inclined.  There are things at the fair you just would have a hard time finding elsewhere.

This week, I tested a few fair favorite drinks at home.  I am not claiming these recipes are the fair recipes, but they are a way to get you similar drinks at home.  Make your grocery list and meet me in the kitchen for drinks from the fair!

Root Beer (the easy way)

I looked into making homemade root beer.  The ingredients are not something you can get readily and it’s expensive to order the individual roots and leaves if you have to get them online.  I found this recipe and jumped at the chance to make this a little cheaper.  There are cheaper root beer kits you can buy but it is still just a concentrate and not all the individual ingredients.  I figure this is recipe is the one to most likely get used if I share it.  One more thing, the concentrate may be clear-mine was!  If you want the root beer color, you will have to add it.

1½ cups water

¾ cup sugar

2 tsps. root beer concentrate or extract

1 liter cold club soda

Bring water to boil in small saucepan. Remove from heat.  Add sugar and stir until dissolved. Add concentrate and stir until well mixed.  Refrigerate until ready to serve. Slowly pour soda into root beer mixture and lightly stir until well blended. Serve in frosted cups/mugs over ice.

Recipe adapted from mccormick.com.


State Fair Lemonade

6 lemons

1½ cups white sugar

5 cups water + 2 cups

Wash lemons and peel using vegetable peeler. Set peeled lemons aside. Add lemon peels to bowl and cover with sugar. Toss to combine. Cover and let sit for minimum of 2 hours, or up to 12 hours.  Bring water to boil in pot over high heat. Turn off heat and pour in lemon-sugar mixture. Stir and let sit until sugar is completely dissolved, about 5 minutes. Pour through mesh strainer back into bowl and discard peels. Let cool to room temperature, 20 to 30 minutes. Cut lemons in half and squeeze into bowl. Pour lemonade into serving pitcher. Add 2 cups cold water and mix well.  Taste and adjust flavor as desired.  Cover and chill thoroughly before serving over ice, at least 2 hours.

Recipe adapted from allrecipes.com


Cherry Limeade

1-2 cups sugar, to taste

6 cups water

10 limes

1½ cups cherries pitted


additional water

Wash limes and zest with grater.  You want very little pith-that makes it bitter.  Set limes aside.  Place zest in small bowl and cover with sugar.  Toss to combine. Cover and let sit for minimum of 2 hours, or up to 12 hours.  In small saucepan, bring water to boil.  Turn off and add zest/sugar mixture.  Stir and let sit until sugar is completely dissolved, about 5 minutes. Pour through mesh strainer back into bowl and discard peel. Let cool to room temperature.  Meanwhile, blend pitted cherries in blender until pureed smooth. Strain pulp if desired.  In 2-qt pitcher combine syrup, lime juice, cherry puree and 3 cups of ice. Fill with water to the 2-quart line. Enjoy immediately or refrigerate until serving.


Bubble Tea

4 tea bags of your choice 

8 cups water, divided

3/4 cup tapioca pearls, fast-cooking

4 Tbsps. milk of your choice

1 cup fresh strawberries, sliced

1 Tbsp. honey, more or less to taste

In 4 cups of boiling water, steep tea. Allow tea to steep as it cools to room temperature.  Bring another 4 cups of water to boil and add dry tapioca pearls.  While stirring, allow pearls to cook for 5 minutes, pearls should float to the top of water when ready.  Rinse pearls in cold water and drain. Divide equally in 4 drinking glasses.  Pour 1 cup of tea and the milk of your choice into a blender with the cup of fresh strawberries. Blend until smooth and pour over the tapioca pearls. Stir to combine and add additional milk and honey or sweetener, if desired, to suit your taste.  Repeat with remaining tea. 

Recipe adapted from leaf.tv.


Cherry Cola Slushie

4 cups ice cubes

1 20oz. bottle dark soda

½ cup bourbon

½ cup grenadine

Freeze 4 glasses 15 minutes. Process all ingredients in blender until ice is completely smooth and mixture is slushy, about 1 minute. Pour mixture into frozen glasses. Serve immediately.

Recipe adapted from southernliving.com