By Casey Nilsson
Oftentimes, the littlest elements of a wedding make the biggest splash. It’s tough to decide on the “distinctively you” details, especially if you’ve never planned such a grand event before. But the easiest place to start is the drink table.
If, like me, you drool at the sight of pick-your-own fruit farms, then stop, pick and roll out of there with a bushel-full of goodies to localize your signature cocktail or non-alcoholic sips — and on the cheap. Pick way ahead of time and freeze the little beauties, or harvest with your honey just before the wedding; it’s a great way to spend a few quiet hours together before all nuptial hell breaks loose. Here are some tips, sourced from farmfreshri.org, on where to pick four tasty in-season fruits, plus simple, tried-and-true recipes. Keep in mind: these recipes serve four people. Expect to make enough batches for thirsty guest consumption!
When to pick: The time is now! Strawberry season ends in early July
What to make: 1149 Restaurant’s Berry Sangria (featured in “Berry Good,” in the June issue of Rhode Island Monthly)
1 bottle sauvignon blanc
1 cup elderflower liquor (St. Germain)
2 Tbs Triple Sec
24 fresh strawberries (halved)
1 cup soda water
Combine sauvignon blanc, elderflower liquor and Triple Sec. Add strawberries and allow to sit refrigerated overnight. Serve over ice and top with soda water.
When to pick: Mid-June through September
Where to pick: Jaswell’s Farm, 50 Swan Rd., Smithfield, 231-9043, jaswellsfarm.com; Pinecrest Farm, 1 Pinecrest Rd., Richmond, 364-3793
What to make: Blackberry Iced Tea
3 cups blackberries
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 Tbs chopped mint
Pinch of baking soda
4 cups boiling water
2 family-size tea bags
2 cups cold water
Lime for garnish
Combine blackberries and sugar and crush with a spoon, then stir in mint and baking soda. In a separate container, pour boiling water over tea bags; cover and steep 3 to 5 minutes. Discard tea bags.
Pour tea over blackberry mixture; let stand at room temperature for 1 hour. Pour tea through a strainer into a pitcher, discarding solids. Add 2 cups cold water and stir. Chill for 1 hour. Serve over ice and garnish with a raspberry and mint sprig.
When to pick: Mid-June through mid-July; mid-August through mid-October
Where to pick: Pippin Orchard, 1199 Pippin Orchard Rd., Cranston, 828-0358; Harmony Farms, 359 Saw Mill Rd., Harmony, 934-0741, harmonyfarmsri.com
What to make: The Sunnyside Catering’s Sparkling Raspberry Lemonade (featured in “Berry Good,” in the June issue of Rhode Island Monthly)
2 cups raspberries, loosely packed
1 cup sugar (divided)
½ cup cold water
1 cup lemon juice
5 cups seltzer
Place the berries and ½ cup sugar in a medium pan. Set over medium-low heat, cover and let stew for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally until the berries have given up their juices.
Add the cold water and the remaining sugar, then raise the heat and bring to a boil, stirring frequently to prevent any scorching.
Once the mixture comes to a full boil, turn off the heat and allow the berry syrup to cool to room temperature, about 1 hour.
Strain the berry syrup to remove any seeds and then store for up to four days in the fridge.
To finish the lemonade, combine the berry syrup with the lemon juice and sparkling water in a large pitcher and serve over ice.
When to pick: Mid-July through mid-October
Where to pick: Barden Family Orchard, 56 Elmdale Rd., North Scituate, 934-1413, bardenfamilyorchard.com; 213 Narrow Ln., North Kingstown, 294-3584
What to make: Peachy Mint Julep
3 Tbs chopped mint
1 cup bourbon
3 oz fresh lemon juice
3 oz simple syrup
4 Tbs peach schnapps
8 oz club soda
3 peaches, sliced
Combine mint, bourbon, lemon, syrup and schnapps over ice and stir. Top with club soda and garnish with peach slices.