It's a sure sign that fall has arrived when the grape guys appear at my local greenmarket. They have giant tubs of different grape varieties -- all of which they let you sample -- in a wide spectrum of hues, from green to golden to deepest purple. The darkest of all are the Concord grapes, those round fat beauties with dusky skins that look as if they’ve just been frosted, and whose intense, not-at-all-sweet flavor has inspired legions of “grape” flavored candies, jellies and gum.
Recently, I decided that I like the flavor of Concord grapes most in drink form. Several years ago, I tested and loved this recipe from the New York Times Magazine, involving a heavily spiced grape purée to which you add vodka, lemon juice and soda water. Over the past few months, as a non-drinking mother-to-be (yes, the cat’s officially out of the bag, people!), I’ve been on the hunt for new and interesting -- and alcohol-free -- ways to imbibe. So I decided to make a Concord grape soda, inspired by the Times recipe. I cut back on the spices, opting for a just a little cinnamon because I wanted a purer grape flavor, and I upped the lemon juice, forgoing the vodka (but you don't have to!). This drink is refreshing, intensely grapey, and a sure herald of fall.
Concord Grape and Lemon Soda
Makes 6 drinks
- 2 lemons
- 1 pound Concord grapes, rinsed and stems removed
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 cinnamon stick, broken in half
- Pinch salt
- Soda water
Like this post? See Merrill's post from last week: Lobster Diavolo
Photos by Jennifer Causey