Strawberry beverages are traditionally enjoyed for Juneteenth. For us, this normally meant a commercially-produced strawberry soda that we purchased at the grocery store. But June is also the peak of strawberry season for much of the country, and this recipe uses fresh strawberries for a vibrant berry flavor that is unmatched by a store-bought soda. Boil the strawberries with water and sugar to create a strawberry syrup. From there, the options are limitless. You can add sparkling water to the strawberry syrup for a gourmet-take on strawberry soda. You can top a glass of champagne with the strawberry syrup for a summery bellini-type beverage. Or, you can jazz things up with this recipe and use pineapple juice, orange juice, rum and sparkling wine for the ultimate strawberry punch.
For the strawberry syrup: Heat the strawberries, sugar and 3/4 cup water in a medium saucepan until boiling. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until the mixture thickens and reduces, about 12 minutes. Remove from the heat, cover and let sit to infuse for 10 minutes. Mash the fruit to a pulp, then strain the syrup into an airtight container. Discard the solids. Refrigerate the syrup until ready to use and up to 1 week.
For the strawberry punch: Combine the strawberry syrup, pineapple juice, orange juice, orange liqueur and rum in a pitcher. Stir until combined, then cover and refrigerate until chilled and ready to serve.
When ready to use, stir, then divide between 6 glasses filled with ice. Top each beverage with 1/4 cup sparkling wine or sparkling water and garnish with a fresh strawberry.
As the ice melts, it will dilute the punch. Feel free to add an additional 1/4 cup sparkling water to each serving to dilute the drink more quickly.
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