This has been an odd year to be a football fan. With college football ending last January and the NFL lockout lasting through the summer, sports fans have heard incessant talk about the sport but seen very little of it until the last few weeks of preseason games. Because of this, I was ecstatic that I was able to spend last Saturday at the home opener for the Penn State Nittany Lions. I am from Northeast Pa. and Saturday pilgrimages to Beaver Stadium are practically a birthright. The early morning wake-up; the drive through pristine mountains and countryside until the stadium appears on the horizon; thousands of tailgaters sharing food, drinks and stories…..there is nothing quite like it.
Tailgating was in full swing at 9am, the university band was blaring, crowds were cheering and even the first kick-off was returned for a touchdown. There was really only one thing missing at last week’s game: fall weather. At kickoff the temperature was peaking at 90 degrees and felt even hotter with 100,000 of my closest friends packed around. Besides an opening day win, the only thing that made the heat easier to bear was the vendors climbing up and down the stadium stairs with water and fresh-squeezed lemonade for sale. Which got me thinking.
Spiked Basil Lemonade
I wanted to make this as simple as possible so I made a pitcher of fresh lemonade, grabbed some fresh basil from outside and pulled out bottles of limoncello and rum.
The lemonade is simple as well and I made it slightly sweeter than normal to balance out the rum. You can make as much as you want with the proportions of: 1 cup of sugar : 1 cup of water : 1 cup of fresh squeezed lemon juice. I prefer making a simple syrup with the water and sugar so that it dissolves fully, then adding the lemon to that.
For the drink itself, I muddle 2 basil leaves, add a jigger of limoncello, a jigger of quality rum and then fill the glass with lemonade and ice before stirring.
Simple, enjoyable and familiar just like an afternoon of college football.
(Photo: Justin Henry)