Back when I started this blog, I made a semi-conscious decision to not write about alcoholic beverages. I guess it seemed slightly bogus to be evangelical about eating healthy food in one post and then touting my killer margarita recipe in the next. But since then I’ve changed my mind, and the reason for that is that my philosophy about what you drink is essentially the same as it is about what you eat: If you’re going to consume alcohol, it might as well be something that tastes amazing and, if it’s a cocktail, preferably made from real, fresh ingredients.
Unlike my college self (who drank Everclear-KoolAid punch from a Rubbermaid trashcan on at least one occasion) or the 20-something gal who loved nothing more than watching “Melrose Place” with a (large) bottle of Yellowtail shiraz, I now am somewhat particular about my adult beverages. I’m not a snob, but I do think whatever you drink should be worth it (whether “it” is calories, a headache, or whatever). And, okay, I do like me some vino nobile and Tanqueray with homemade tonic. Hmmm, maybe I am a snob. But I digress. This post is supposed to be about my favorite summertime beverage: Lemonade. Well, actually vodka lemonade.
Once I started bringing fresh-squeezed lemonade to a few social gatherings, I realized just how special the real, non-Country Time stuff is. People were raving and asking for the recipe. It’s simple and delicious. The basic recipe is a favorite with the kids, but all it takes is a little Grey Goose to make it the perfect summertime cocktail.
One note about this recipe: Although a regular citrus juicer works fine, it’s much easier to squeeze lemons and limes with a Mexican-style metal lime squeezer. If you don’t have a lime squeezer, I highly recommend picking one up. These nifty gadgets are handy for cooking and of course cocktail making, and they’re easier to use and clean than a traditional citrus-juicing contraption. They used to be sort of a novelty (and my favorite gift to bring back from Mexico), but now they’re available everywhere, including Bed, Bath & Beyond.
8-10 lemons or a combination of lemons and limes
1/2-2/3 cup sugar (Get the organic, unbleached kind; I don’t know, it seems less refined.)
8-10 cups water or soda water (Only use soda if you’re going to be drinking immediately.)
Cut the lemons and limes in half then squeeze into a pitcher or bowl. Set juice aside. In a small saucepan, combine sugar with 1 cup water. Stir over medium heat until the mixture becomes syrupy (don’t let it scorch). Add 1/2 of the simple syrup to the juice and taste. If it’s sweet enough, you can stop there; if it’s not sweet enough, add the rest of the syrup. If it’s still not sweet enough (and now you’ll see just how much sugar they must put in most commercial lemonade since it’s so ridiculously sweet), you can add a bit more sugar to it because it will be still warm. Stir well and dilute with water or soda to taste.
If you’ve had one of those afternoons, add a few shots of vodka.