Summer has come around again, and while it’s probably not the summer you envisioned, there’s one thing #2020 can’t take away from us: the time-stopping joy of sipping on a tall, lip-puckering glass of fresh lemonade.
Though you probably aren’t going to find any neighborhood kids selling lemonade on the sidewalk this year, you can still share the citrusy wealth. If you’re meeting up with friends via Zoom or distancing in the park, make a batch of lemonade to leave on their front porch or pack a little picnic for your meetup.
Trust us, it will make their day. Who wouldn’t love to receive a glass of homemade lemonade?
While some of us may not need a recipe for this classic bev, we’ve got a foolproof one for you to use as a template.
- 1 cup sugar
- 6 cups water, divided
- 1 cup lemon juice
- 1 cup ice
- Make simple syrup: Combine sugar and 1 cup water in a saucepan on the stove and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and let cool.
- Add lemon juice, ice, and remaining 5 cups water to a pitcher and stir. Add simple syrup 1/4 cup at a time, tasting as you go, until lemonade reaches your desired sweetness. Serve cold.
From here, the lemonade possibilities are endless. You can add liquor, fruit, syrups, or fresh herbs to tailor your lemonade to your flavor cravings.
A brief history
This iconic summer drink can be traced back to India, where a drink called nimbu paani was made with sugarcane and lemons. From there, lemons made their way through Asia into a drink called qatarmizat, a concentrated version of the lemonade we know and drink today.
Moral of the story: When life gives you lemons (and a hot day), make lemonade, but make it original with one of these jazzy recipes.
Though there are many theories about the origins of pink lemonade, we know it originated in the late 1800s and is somehow connected to circuses. Its pink color has been attributed to cinnamon candies, juices, and even a dirty pair of tights (from a circus performer way back when).
However, this recipe gets its color from a splash of cranberry, which, as we all know, is a dear friend of vodka. This old-time favorite will take you back to the juice boxes and lemonade stands of your childhood — but with a grown-up, boozy twist. We suggest sitting back and getting to day drinking with this one!
Cucumber and mint come together to give this tall glass of lemonade a cooling mouthfeel. Toss a shot of gin over the top for some bonus booze points.
When trying any of these recipes, don’t forget that you can tailor them to your taste. If you’re all about the cucumber, cut some of the lemon juice. Or add more mint to give it hints of a mojito. You are the ringleader of your own lemonade pitcher!
This recipe swaps the simple syrup or granulated sugar for a few tablespoons of agave nectar. The bonus nutrients from the fresh kale and orange juice are just one more reason to love this green take on classic lemonade.
While this lemonade may have some similarities to a freshly pressed juice due to the addition of lime juice and greens, it’ll still pack that lip-puckering punch you’re used to.
Jalapeño-based drinks are not for those who wouldn’t consider themselves fans of spice. In this recipe, the jalapeño flavor is infused into the simple syrup, which keeps things sweet — but trust us, the kick will come.
We’re not saying all lemonade needs to have booze involved, but adding a shot of tequila can definitely tame the heat in this one! If it’s a bit too spicy, top it off with a little liquor to help calm it down.
While this recipe calls for fresh mangos, you can totally use frozen if you can’t find any ripe ones.
Whenever you’re whipping up a batch of lemonade, consider adding frozen fruit to the pitcher instead of ice. This will keep it cold and give you something to munch on later! Who doesn’t love an ice cube that also serves as a snack?
We all know the most classic twist on lemonade is strawberry lemonade. Nothing screams “Summer!” like perfectly ripe strawberries that have been pureed and mixed into a fresh glass of lemonade.
This recipe takes you through the basics of processing strawberries to add to some fresh lemonade. Keep a pitcher full of this in the fridge for whenever you need a little pick-me-up!
Coming to Los Angeles from Oakland, California, Magdalena O’Neal has self-published a book of poetry and has been studying creative writing and journalism for the last 7 years. She loves baking and coming up with new recipes to fuel her vegan and gluten-free companions!