Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Easy Lemonade Cocktails: Lemonade plus one


This weekend we had the pleasure of having dinner with friends. Jon, smoker/grill-master extraordinaire made a ridiculously good pulled pork and we provided dessert. Oh wait, no, we were supposed to provide dessert. Except I forgot, got tied up over an hour away, and was running late. So we brought bread, lemonade, and a bottle of Riesling. Perfectly normal, right?

Luckily the white wine and lemonade combo was a winner and Anna, who is not a big drinker, loved it. Which I consider a compliment - even more so when she mentioned it on Facebook and her blog! I agree - this little gem went straight into heavy rotation once it was introduced to my repertoire.


As for the combination of lemonade and wine: I have to admit the first time I had it I was a little surprised and a lot intrigued. My bridal shower was in the midst of the sweltering Chicago summer and my maid of honor and her husband threw a simply perfect outdoor bash. Our save-the-date cards read like a film script and made mention of (dry) Riesling wine. Fittingly, the main drink was one of my still-favorite Rieslings (Kung Fu Girl) and lemonade. It was refreshing, festive, and delicious. Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay, Vihno Verde - all work great and add a unique twist to this combination.

Since then we've incorporated the lemonade/pink lemonade/limeade + 1 idea across the board. From the non-alcoholic but always tasty lemonade and iced tea (an Arnold Palmer) to the slightly more unexpected. Here are a few favorites that make for embarrassingly easy summer entertaining:


A natural and fabulous progression from the lemonade and wine arena is lemonade + bubbly. Cava, Prosecco, Champagne, sparkling wine, whatever your preference!


Lemon-, Lime- or Pink Lemonade and Vodka: 1 shot of vodka per highball glass or larger, or adjust to your preferences. I'm not a huge hard-alcohol drinker but I recently discovered a vodka that I actually really like: 360 Organic. The cherry flavor + limeade is a great combo. I will warn you though, chocolate vodka and lemonade? Not a winner.


The quintessential summer favorite around our house, the "Shandy", or Lemonade + Beer: half of each. We prefer it with a summer ale or a wheat beer but hey, it's worth playing around to see what you might like. Stouts I've never tried, and frankly, I probably won't - but if you are adventuresome and want to give it a go you let us know how it turns out!


Lemonade + Lambic: half and half. If you've never had a Lambic before it is essentially a malt beverage with a lot of fruit added. It's usually sold as a beer and is super sweet but surprisingly good. The easiest to find in the US is usually the brand Lindemann's and it comes in a variety of flavors: Framboise (raspberry), Peche (peach), etc.


Lemonade and Fruit-Flavored Ale: half and half. Pretty much the same thing as with a Lambic but the flavor is a bit lighter and the color more like with a beer. Sam'l Smith makes a gorgeous fruit flavored set of ales that are perfect for this application but amazingly drinkable and not overwhelmingly sweet all on their own.

So, if you are entertaining this summer consider a lemonade + one bar. Garnishes are easy, mixing is fast, and everyone is happy.

My lemonade recipe is pretty open to interpretation but is usually 6-8 lemons, 6-8 cups of water and I start with 3/4 cup of sugar, then add more until I get the flavor I like. The best way to achieve a non-gritty lemonade is to dissolve the sugar in some of the water in a pot over about a medium heat - you want to heat the water and sugar enough to melt and dissolve the sugar but not more, then add to the rest of your mix. Essentially, its simple syrup and lemon juice, plus lots of water. For limeade simply switch limes for lemons.

Easy ways to flavor your lemonade:

Add muddled mint (preferably in the hot water/sugar mix)

Add muddled basil (preferably in the hot water/sugar mix)

Add the juice of one blood orange to your lemonade to make it pink.

Add a 1/2 - 1 pint of raspberries and cook until softened/dissolved in the sugar/water mix - will also make it pink - make sure to strain before adding to your lemonade.

Use 1 orange in place of 1 lemon for a less tart and more subtle flavor.


For garnishes consider:

Any citrus - lemons, limes, oranges of all varieties in wedges, peels curled, or in rounds.

Fresh mint, basil, or lavender.

Fresh berries - any kind would be lovely.

Pretty straws

Ice cubes made into fun shapes or made of frozen lemonade - or even better, shaved ice!

Add sugar rims to your glasses - for the limeade glass above I used Swedish pearl sugar.

Non-Alcoholic Mixers:

Lemon-Lime Soda.

Iced Tea.

Seltzer water.

A scoop of lemon sorbet.

Because I like the idea of a lemonade bar and party so much, and I love my readers, I have a freebie label download for you (click file, download original, save and edit from there)! Just change the text to anything you want, print, cut inside the grey line, fold in half and there you go - little table-tent signs for your party!

If you are having problems getting the font to load it is free and downloadable here or here. Download, install, re-open and try again.

Enjoy and cheers!


Mike said...

I have always enjoyed shandys during the summer but I may have to try your idea of lambic and lemonade! I'm so glad I found your blog and your pictures are really good!

Roz said...

Are those blood oranges? What is best way to make raspberry lemonade? Thank you for the inspiration!

Tricia said...

Hi Roz! Yep, blood oranges - and they are divine.

For raspberry go ahead and mash up your raspberries any way you like - muddle, use a food processor, smash with a spoon, whatever. Add while making your simple syrup (hot water/sugar mix) and cook until they are good and soft. Then strain the sugar/water/raspberry mix into your lemonade. You can add a concentrate or juice but fresh tastes best to me. Mmm. Now I'm excited about raspberries at the farmers market!

tfols1 said...

Love the article. One little semantic point (because the beer geek in me can't resist). Lambics are actually a style of beer. The uniqueness of it is that it is fermented by "Spontaneous fermentation" - in effect it gets wild yeasts and bacteria to ferment it, instead of most beer, which you use a specific yeast.

Like how wine from a specific lot can have certain flavors, lambics are similar depending on the specific wild yeast that might be at a location where the beer is produced.

Most of Lindemann's beers are actually sweetened, which is a bit different than the traditional process for a lambic.

Ok, now that I have my beer nerd out of the way - Thanks for the article! Definitely going to try the wine/lemonade combos on a few friends who are not big beer/liquor drinkers for one of my summer cocktail parties.

Tricia said...

Thanks for that! I actually always thought lambics were beer then got completely confused when I read "malt" on the Lindemanns and I know the other I used is an ale...I guess we can't get a true lambic here? Or maybe the ale is a lambic?

Let me know how your wine cocktails go over!

tfols1 said...

I am NO expert on labeling laws, but I actually think most beer, if not all, falls under the classification "malt". It has to do with the main ingredient (barley), and something about the timing when its used. Not sure how that all works. Then each individual state has different labeling laws for alcohol, so there may be certain things that require the malt beverage label (for instance, one of the most interesting beers out there is Samichlaus, an Austrian beer brewed once a year. It's a doppelbock, is around 14% alcohol, and since it is so high, around here it must be labeled a malt beverage - even though its a beer).

There are definitely true lambics here (and Lindemann's IS made in Belgium, it's just not true to the original style). I am in the DC area, and we can get Cantillion, which is a classic lambic (and they make many styles), pretty easily. A few others pop up from time to time. The best bet if you want to try one is to find the best craft beer specialty store you can.

Tricia said...

Oh, right - I didn't even think about that! The fruit fermentation probably pushes the alcohol content up and thus the labeling. Le duh.

Sigh. We used to live right across the street from one of the top rated beer shops in the nation. I miss that place.

Ashley said...

I want to print this entire post out on glossy paper and frame the whole thing. So pretty. And these are just my sort of drinks! Gonna try some of them.

Jeanne Muir said...

While traveling in Spain, my drink of choice was a lovely mix of lemon soda and red wine (like a Rioja) over ice - called href="http://spanishfood.about.com/od/drinks/r/tintodeverano.htm" tinto de verano. Lemonade and sparling water would make a good substitute for lemon soda. Those drinks look wonderful for a heat wave!

The Minister said...

The Limeade looks delicious and your photographs are wonderful!

Tricia said...

Thank you, thank you!

bakerbyNature said...

Lemonade and vodka on a hot day can be a girls best friend.

diane said...

this post is so full of deliciousness!

your recipes are fab + the photos make me swoon.

the strawberry - lemon - mint garnish on the pink straw made me fall madly in love.

beautiful work!


Peggy said...

All of those refreshments are such great ideas! Now I know how to impress the cookout guests for the next party! =)

Unknown said...

I've tasted some frozen cocktails in perth during my vacation in that area. I really love the taste of that alcoholic drink.

Anonymous said...

I've been cutting down on sugar for a six months now, but since I love cocktails, I experimented on low-cal sweeteners. I'm just glad it was a success! I could continue drinking cocktails. -Alannah

Anonymous said...

Those cocktails just make me forget that I'm on a no-sugar diet! I hope everyone can make those low-cal sweetened cocktails that Alannah mentioned.

| Brooke Nettlefold

Unknown said...

My doctor has been advising me to avoid sugar, but he never included cocktails on the "do NOT eat/drink" list... so I'm drinking this weekend! Thanks for your photos. They make the cocktails look absolutely delicious!

| Misty |

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Anonymous said...

I drink a glass of lemonade every morning. Now I want to add a different taste and I’m glad that I found this article because I’ve found exactly what I’m looking for.

-Mia L.

Anonymous said...

I drink a glass of lemonade every morning. Now I want to add a different taste and I’m glad that I found this article because I’ve found exactly what I’m looking for.

-Mia L.