We’re going to come at this one a little backward, and you’re going to love us for it.
Straight up fresh lemonade is, of course, delicious. It’s the classic summer refreshment. And we’re going to walk you through making a truly wonderful basic lemonade, as well as some terrific infused lemonades that doctor up that basic batch with some fantastic complementary flavors.
But first, let’s move way beyond basic. Because as good as a straight-up lemonade is, we can’t help but think it gets even better when you add a little splash of something adults-only. Now we’re talking fun in the sun.
The important thing to consider when adding alcohol to lemonade is that you are playing with a highly acidic ingredient. This means you’ll want to select liquors that play nicely with that. They should either be relatively neutral to let the lemon juice shine, or they should be complementary. Tequila and mezcal, for example, love citrus.
And don’t limit yourself to the hard stuff. Rose and sweet white wines, such as riesling, also are nice. So are hard cider and India pale ale. Whatever you end up using, plan for 1 to 2 ounces of liquor per serving of lemonade.
For the infused lemonades below, we suggest the following pairings — for herbal, vodka; for cucumber, gin; for mixed melon, light rum; for mango-chili, tequila; and for mixed berry, vodka.
And by the way, while bottled lemon juice is fine for most cooking, do yourself a flavor favor and invest the few minutes it will take to squeeze lemons for these recipes. Freshly squeezed juice shines and makes a real difference.