A Tonic For August 

Herbs are a garnish in many summer drinks, but they're front-and-center in this recipe for an herb-lemonade spritzer adapted from The New York Times. It helps to have an herb garden. Start a day ahead.

2/3 c sugar
1 1/2 c basil leaves and sprigs
1 c mint leaves and sprigs, plus more for garnish
1/4 c cilantro leaves only
1 T fresh tarragon leaves
1 T fresh oregano leaves
4 T finely grated lemon zest
1/4 c fresh lemon juice
Club soda
One thinly sliced lemon for garnish

In a saucepan, combine sugar with 2 cups water and bring to a boil, stirring until sugar dissolves. Reduce heat to low, simmer for 5 minutes, remove from heat, and cool.

In a food processor, combine the cooled syrup with the herbs, zest, and lemon juice. Pulse until chopped but not puréed. Transfer to a bowl and refrigerate overnight.

Strain the herb mixture, extracting all liquid, and discard the solids. Fill six tall glasses with ice cubes and pour in 1/3 cup lemon-herb mixture. Top off with club soda and garnish with mint sprigs and lemon slices. Yields six servings

Of course, you could add gin, vodka, or even white rum, but that isn't the point. Accordingly, no annoying little umbrellas need apply.

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