Refreshing Summer Drinks, Watermelon Slushy

Four Refreshing Summer Drinks to Celebrate the Golden Hour

The last hour before sunset is sometimes the best part of the day. Here are four refreshing summer drinks to sip as you celebrate the Golden Hour.

The first day of summer is almost upon us, and it’s my favorite time of the year.

Yes, it’s hot and humid – especially where we live in Florida. But along with the heat comes all the fun. Going to the pool and the beach. Picnics and cookouts, with sweet corn and watermelon and slushies. Vacations. Bright sunshine, rain showers, longer days… While the kids were growing up, it meant freedom from the tyranny of the school schedule. Now that we’re almost retired, we’ve been (at least partly) freed from work schedules. We have reached the stage where we have more time to relax and enjoy ourselves.

Especially during the summer, my favorite time of day has always been the Golden Hour.

I didn’t know it was actually a thing, or that it had a name, until I read the book The Golden Hour by Maiya Williams with my daughter when she was in grade school. Since then, I’ve learned there is a scientific explanation for why the light appears golden during this brief period before sunset. When the sun is closer to the horizon, blue light is filtered out of the atmosphere. This is a photographer’s favorite time of day because the light is softer with lots of warm tones, providing the perfect light for outdoor photos.

The Golden Hour is the time when the busyness of the day winds down.

At the end of the day when everyone starts going inside, outside it begins to feel kind of hushed and still. We love to be at the beach around this time. Most of the sunbathers have packed up and gone home after a day in the heat; just a few stragglers like us are out. It’s so peaceful to sit and watch the waves when all is quiet around us. We often wait until the sun sets to head home.

Another time we enjoy the Golden Hour is when we’ve spent a whole day working in the yard, mowing and edging and making everything look tidy and nice. After clean-up and a cool shower, we love to go back outside with some refreshing summer drinks and enjoy the fruits of our labors, sometimes hearing the coo of a mourning dove, or watching the hummingbirds at the feeder.

There are places (mostly at the beach) where Sunset Celebrations are a regular event.

Perhaps the most famous of these is in Key West, where people have been gathering at Mallory Square since the 1960’s to watch the sun sink into the Gulf of Mexico. We’ve experienced this nightly event a couple of times ourselves. It can get a bit crazy, with street performers, artists, and vendors hawking their wares. But it’s all in good fun.

We propose a new tradition that anyone, anywhere can observe: The Golden Hour Celebration.

Here’s how it would go. Earlier in the day, you would look up what time the sun is setting on your weather app. Then you would set a reminder on your phone for one hour before that time. When your alarm goes off, head to the kitchen and throw together a light snack – maybe some nuts and olives, or a handful of pretzels, or a bowl of popcorn. Don’t work too hard at it. This celebration is all about relaxing. Then mix up a tall, cool beverage and head outside. Find a comfortable chair and just sit. Enjoy the peace. Drink in the warm glow of the light around you. Unwind. You don’t have to talk (unless you want to). But a toast to the Golden Hour is mandatory.

If you’re on board for our new celebration, here are four refreshing summer drinks you can try:

The Watermelon Slushy: Earlier in the day, cut watermelon into 1″ cubes and freeze on a parchment-lined tray, then transfer to a freezer bag or container to store. To make the slushy, add 1 cup of frozen watermelon cubes to a blender (we use our NutriBullet), along with 1/2 cup of flavored sparkling water (we like Trader Joe’s watermelon lemonade flavor), and the juice of half a lime. Process until slushy. Pour into a glass and garnish with a slice of lime. One slurp will take you back to your childhood!

Refreshing Summer Drinks, Watermelon Slushy

The Orange Soda: Fill a tall glass with ice. Pour in about 2 ounces of orange juice and 4-5 ounces of club soda. Squeeze in the juice from a slice of orange, then drop the whole slice in and stir. Garnish with a sprig of fresh mint and enjoy this cold, fizzy, thirst-quenching beverage.

Refreshing Summer Drinks, The Orange Soda

The Mock Pimm’s Cup: Place two or three slices of seedless cucumber in the bottom of a cocktail shaker. Muddle the cucumber (meaning smash it up a bit). Add 1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar, and shake to blend. Strain into a tall glass full of ice, and top off with ginger ale or non-alcoholic ginger beer. Garnish with slices of cucumber and lemon or lime. This takeoff on the British classic (which is also popular in New Orleans) is almost as delicious as the original.

Mock Pimms Cup

The Strawberry “Daiquiri”: Into your blender or Nutribullet, add 1/2 cup of frozen strawberries, 1/2 cup of fresh strawberries (stems removed and cut in half), 1 teaspoon of sugar, the juice of half a lime, and 1 cup of ice. Process until slushy, and pour into daiquiri or martini glasses. Garnish with a whole strawberry. It’s like the taste of summer in a glass! Note: You can add a bit more sugar if you want a sweeter drink.

Refreshing Summer Drinks, Strawberry "Daiquiri"

Bonus Beverage: Singer Katy Perry is apparently a Golden Hour girl, too. We haven’t had a chance to try her Golden Hour non-alcoholic drink (part of her De Soi line of non-alcoholic aperitifs), but it looks delicious. You can order it online or use the locator on her website to find a store near you.

Let us know if you have joined the movement!

Tell us about your Golden Hour celebration, or share the recipes for your favorite refreshing summer drinks in the comments.

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