3 SUMMERTIME LEMONADE RECIPES

Lemonade is the perfect combination of sweet and tart, making it just the right refreshment to reach for when you’re looking to quench your thirst. There’s just nothing better than taking that first big swig of ice cold lemonade when you’re outside enjoying a hot day. But classic lemonade — a simple combination of lemon juice, sugar, and water — is really just the starting point for so many exciting summer lemonade recipes.

I realize that sometimes simple is perfect. I love a three-ingredient recipe myself, but when you’re ready to add a little flair and have a few friends over to celebrate all that beautiful sunshine, adding a boozy element to that simple lemonade makes things much more fun!

So why go for plain lemonade when you can add a few simple ingredients and take that classic lemonade up a notch? I’ve come up with a few quick summer lemonade recipes that still provide the cooling refreshment of lemonade while surprising your guests with a beautiful burst of flavor.

Let’s get things started for all you DIYers out there. Here’s the recipe for a classic lemonade to use as a base for the following cocktail and mocktail or to simply enjoy on its own.

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GIDGET’S CLASSIC LEMONADE
Making a batch of lemonade is just the thing for adding the perfect level of summer to picnics and backyard BBQs alike. Having a pitcher on hand in the fridge means that fresh lemony flavor is just a glass away, so mix up a batch of this classic lemonade and get ready for some summer drinks.

INGREDIENTS ::
Note: The bonus of making your own lemonade is you can control the level of sweetness — or tartness — by adding more lemons or sugar to your liking.

  • 1-1/2 cups freshly-squeezed lemon juice (from about 12+ lemons, I prefer Meyer lemons)
  • 1-3/4 cups sugar
  • 8 cups water
  • Lemon slices to garnish

HOW TO MAKE IT ::

  1. In a small saucepan, combine sugar and 1 cup of water.
  2. Bring to a boil and stir to dissolve sugar, about 3-4 minutes.
  3. Cool mixture to room temperature.
  4. In pitcher, stir together cooled syrup, lemon juice, and remaining 7 cups of water.
  5. Before serving, add lemon to garnish and plenty of ice.

A SUNSHINE DAY LEMONADE COCKTAIL

It's a SUNSHINE DAY!

It’s a SUNSHINE DAY!

There’s nothing like lemonade in the middle of the day or to kickstart your early evening dinner party with friends. A sweet and sour classic lemonade is mighty tasty indeed and while it’s is great on its own, a little jigger or two of flavor-enhancing liquor certainly doesn’t hurt (and gets your party rolling). This sophisticated cocktail owes its flavor pop to a combo of elderflower liquor and Italian limoncello. Bellissimo!

TOOLS :: Cocktail shaker, jigger
GLASS :: Stemless champagne flute or stemless wine glass
EXTRAS :: Lemon twist
SERVINGS ::  2 cocktails

INGREDIENTS :: 

  • 4 ounces vodka
  • 2 ounces classic lemonade (above) or fresh, purchased lemonade
  • 2 ounces St. Germain elderflower liquor
  • 1 ounces Limoncello
  • Club soda
  • Optional: Juice of 1/2 Meyer lemon

HOW TO MAKE IT ::

  1. Fill each glass to the top with ice and add lemon twist.
  2. In ice-filled cocktail shaker, add remaining ingredients except club soda.
  3. Shake well to mix all ingredients and distribute between glasses.
  4. Top with club soda and stir to combine.

I LOVE BLUEBERRIES! MOCKTAIL

Here’s a non-alcoholic twist on the classic lemonade that will make the non-drinkers at your party feel loved. It’s time to build a drink that looks just as beautiful and specially prepared as its boozy counterpart. Made with an easy blueberry simple syrup, this summer lemonade recipe brings tangy, sweet, and refreshing together in a trifecta of summer wonder. The perfect way to cool yourself down on a hot day!

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TOOLS ::  Saucepan, fine wire sieve, jigger
GLASS :: Collins or highball
EXTRAS :: Lemon wheels and blueberries for garnish
SERVINGS :: 4 cocktails

INGREDIENTS :: 

  • 3/4 cup blueberries
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3/4 cup classic lemonade (above) or fresh, purchased lemonade
  • 1 can of San Pellegrino Limonata sparkling lemon beverage
  • Lots of ice!
  • Lemons cut into wheels

HOW TO MAKE IT ::
Blueberry Simple Syrup 

  1. Combine first three ingredients in a saucepan and heat over medium until sugar dissolves.
  2. Bring to a boil and reduce heat.
  3. Simmer until blueberries have broken down, about 3-5 minutes.
  4. Strain blueberries through a fine wire sieve to remove solids.
  5. Set syrup aside and let cool. Keep any leftover syrup chilled in your refrigerator for up to one month. 

Blueberry Lemonade 

  1. Fill each glass halfway with ice and add lemon wheels. Once lemons are inserted, fill rest of the glass with ice.
  2. Add 1 ounce of blueberry syrup to each glass.
  3. Add lemonade or lemon juice to within 1 1/2-2 inches from the top of each glass.
  4. Top with San Pellegrino Limonata sparking lemon (or club soda or lemon-flavored sparkling water).
  5. Stir to combine and garnish with blueberries.

Spike it! This cocktail would pair wonderfully with either some citrus vodka or gin, so if you want to turn up the fun a little on this recipe, simply add 1 1/2 oz of either spirit after you add the blueberry syrup!

 

TIPSY ARNOLD PALMER ~ A SUMMERTIME CLASSIC

Have you ever noticed that as soon as summer hits, most things in life become less complicated? Life in the summer simply slows down a bit. Meals during the summer equate to anything quick on the BBQ, grilled veggies and a salad. Summer simplicity even takes over my wardrobe. I just reach for that light and flowing summer dress, slip on my jazzy sandals and I’m out the door, ready for the day.

Even when our family schedule boasts errands and to-do lists, there’s always an undercurrent of an upcoming vacation to calm me, or the promise of summer evenings that go on forever that beckon me back into that slower summertime pace.

For those uncomplicated summer get-togethers and impromptu afternoons on the front porch watching the sunset, I’ve got a drink for you that partners well with the effortless mood of the season. Enter the Arnold Palmer, a classic cocktail made by combining equal parts of tea and lemonade with ice.

GidgetTipsyArnoldPalmerSingle

While I think we can safely say that the combination of lemon and tea have been enjoyed for centuries, it was golfing great Arnold Palmer who made the mixture famous during the 1960s and we’ve been enjoying his namesake ever since. When you think about it, there’s nothing better to quench your thirst and cool you down more than either ice tea or lemonade so combining the two is sheer genius!

Even though it’s tough to enhance a true classic like iced tea or the Arnold Palmer, I’m going to add a little booze to the mix for a truly delicious — and simple — summer cocktail that you can have at the ready to enjoy on one of those awesome summer evenings.

TIPSY ARNOLD PALMER

Get started by making your Arnold Palmer base of tea and lemonade. Once you’ve got these key ingredients made and chilling in the fridge, simply grab a glass, add a little booze and you’re ready any time for celebrating or just satisfying that summertime thirst. Besides, I think spiked tea is the best tea of all!

GidgetTipsyAPOverhead

TOOLS ::  Saucepan for boiling, measuring cups, pitcher for chilling and muddler
GLASS ::  Mason jar in any size
EXTRAS :: Oranges, lemons (make wheels, wedges, or spirals) and mint for garnish
SERVINGS ::  1 pitcher

INGREDIENTS ::
Iced tea
6 cups water
8 bags of black tea
1/2 cup sweetening agent (honey, turbinado sugar, crystals, or granulated sugar)

Lemonade
The bonus of making your own lemonade is you can control the level of sweetness — or tartness — by adding more lemons or sugar to your liking. If you’re short on time and just want to get your party started, a good quality pre-made lemonade is perfect!
For all you DIY’ers out there, check out our Classic Gidget+LaRue Lemonade, check out our recipe HERE.

For each cocktail
1.5 ounces Wild Turkey American Honey Bourbon

GidgetTipsyArnoldPalmerWildTurkey

HOW TO MAKE IT ::
Iced tea
 – Bring water to a boil in a medium saucepan.
– Remove from heat, add tea bags and let steep for 5-10 minutes.
– Remove tea bags and add sweetening agent of your choice, stirring until dissolved.
– Taste for your desired level of sweetness, adding sweetener until you’re happy with the       flavor and set aside.

Tipsy Arnold Palmer
 – In a pitcher, combine equal parts of sweetened tea and lemonade and let chill for at least 1 hour or refrigerate overnight. Stir again before serving.
– Garnish pitcher with citrus slices.
– Place a few slices of lemon and orange in bottom of each cocktail glass and muddle gently to release flavors of citrus.
– Add bourbon and fill glass to top with ice.
– Fill glass with Arnold Palmer tea/lemonade mixture and give it a good stir.
– Garnish with mint and additional citrus.

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TIP :: The “Vodka Hack”

If you aren’t willing to dive into the sweet deliciousness that is Wild Turkey American Honey Bourbon (even though I really think you should try this!), you can always keep your tipsy Arnold Palmer more on the lemony side of things by using only lemons and Citrus Vodka instead of the oranges and bourbon.

This version keeps the flavor very refreshing and you’ll be amazed at how you can’t even tell you’re drinking spiked tea!

TIP #2 :: The “Life is Busy Hack”

While making fresh lemonade and black iced tea will make this cocktail epic, sometimes we need to embrace the simplicity of summer and cut some corners to keep life easy.

I found Arizona Sweet Tea in jugs at the dollar store nearby and when added to some store-bought lemonade, it did the trick in a pinch.

The mixture will certainly be sweeter than making your own tea and lemonade, but you can balance that out with fresh lemons and oranges muddled into the drink or added to your chilled pitcher.

REFRESHING CUCUMBER COCKTAIL ~ THE ROYAL KEW

Garden-to-glass ~ The Royal Kew

Garden-to-glass ~ The Royal Kew

Ok, so here’s the deal: Cocktail-friendly plants can be grown in your garden, and with backyard entertaining just a few months ahead of us, this is the time of year to take full advantage of that bounty. If you’re still in the planning stages of your garden, there are a plethora of plants and herbs to consider in your planting plan to bring that garden freshness right into your summer cocktails!

Doesn’t this make gardening seem all the more exciting? You can venture into your garden and encounter a seasonal array of cocktail mixers and garnishes to create a whole new farm-to-glass revolution of your own right in your backyard. There are lots of herbs — think basil and mint — that go beyond simple salad enhancers and add a whole new level to your cocktail. Flowers such as a simple sprig of lavender can elevate your garnish game. Then you have the wonderful world of citrus with lemons, limes, grapefruits, and oranges. The possibilities are endless! And let’s not forget vegetables — they’re right there just waiting to be infused or muddled as the star attraction of your next cocktail party.

So where to start? I’ve got a delicious cocktail that comes straight out of the garden to get you headed in the right direction. The balance and garden power of this cucumber cocktail comes from the refreshing flavor of cucumbers, the delicate and oh-so-delicious floral sweetness of St. Germain (made from Elderflowers), and fresh lime juice. Muddle in aromatic spearmint and add botanical-rich gin as your base spirit and you’re on your way to garden-fresh greatness.

It’s true, this cocktail includes a vegetable, an herb, a flower-based liquor, and citrus, so it’s pretty much the ultimate garden cocktail, wouldn’t you say? While you may not have the exact ingredients growing quite yet, get those seed packets ready because after one sip of this libation you’re going to want these ingredients at your fingertips all summer long!

PREP YOUR GARDEN

Outside of planting a lime tree (which I highly recommend — I love my Tahitian lime tree!), there are two plants for you to add to your garden this summer to fuel making this cocktail all season: Cucumber and spearmint.

Cocktail_CucumberCucumber
Few foods are as cool as a cucumber. These low-calorie veggies contain many nutritional benefits, including hydrating properties and valuable nutrients. Cucumbers are a great addition to your garden and belong to the same botanical family as melons (including watermelon and cantaloupe). In order to get your garden ready for this cocktail, make sure you’re planting slicing cucumbers vs.pickling cucumbers, which are generally smaller and have thinner skins.

SpearmintSpearmint

Spearmint is a pleasantly aromatic herb packed with numerous health benefiting vitamins, antioxidants, and phyto-nutrients. Often overlooked due to its more famous garden cousin mint, spearmint brings a subtle hint of flavor to cocktails where mint packs a real punch. Give this herb a try and you’ll be thrilled with the results. 

 

GIN FOR THE WIN!

I know there are many of you out there who thought, “Oh no, it’s made with gin? I don’t like gin!” Well, it’s time you gave gin a chance.

From a garden freshness standpoint, you can’t get a spirit any closer to the delicious herbs of our world than with gin. While the origins of the clear liquor are often questioned, someone most likely in Holland or Belgium began to infuse alcohol with juniper berries and a variety of other botanicals way back in the Middle Ages. (Think of this spirit as the first flavored vodka!) Gin is still made this way today and each brand has its own recipe and techniques for infusion.

While all gin has some juniper flavor, the other botanicals highlighted in gins today can include a wide array of herbs, vegetables, flowers, fruits, spices, and even tea. So please check out the wide flavor range of gins available now at shops like BevMo and give gin a chance to blow you away with it’s refreshing and summer-sunshine-and-herbs-in-a-glass flavor.

CUCUMBER COCKTAIL RECIPE

National Geographic’s list of the Top Ten Most Beautiful Gardens named the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew as number two in the list. With over 326 acres and 100 world-class attractions created over the past 250 years, what’s not to love about Kew Gardens in Surrey, England?

And since it’s Great Britain who singlehandedly made gin famous over the years with their world-class London Dry Gin, I thought it only fitting to give a shout out to our gin-imbibing partners across the pond.

GidgetGardenCocktail2THE ROYAL KEW

TOOLS :: Mixing glass, muddler, cocktail shaker, metal mesh cocktail strainer
GLASS :: Chilled Coupe
EXTRAS ::  Cucumbers for garnish — make spears, wheels, wafers, or spirals
SERVINGS :: 2 cocktails

INGREDIENTS ::

  • 2 ounces St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur
  • 10-12 chunks peeled English cucumber
  • 10-12 spearmint leaves
  • 4 ounces gin
  • 2 ounces fresh lime juice

Gidget_GardenCocktail_Muddle

HOW TO MAKE IT ::
In a mixing glass, add cucumber, mint and St. Germain. Using your muddler, gently massage the cucumber and mint — you aren’t trying to pulverize them, you’re muddling to extract juice from the cucumbers and essential oils from spearmint leaves. Go easy!

Add gin and lime juice into a cocktail shaker, then add in muddled ingredients from the mixing glass. Add ice and shake vigorously.

Using metal mesh strainer, double strain into chilled coupe and garnish with cucumber.

EXPAND YOUR GARDEN ~ AND YOUR COCKTAIL MENU!

For a look back at other cocktails that can utilize the herbs, fruits, and flowers from your garden (or local farmers market), take a peek at a few of my other garden-fresh recipes. As if you weren’t excited enough to get started gardening!

  • Blueberry Basil Cocktails: These two cocktails – The ZIGGY and The VIOLET BEAUREGARDE use a basil and fresh blueberry simple syrup (and it’s simple to make!) to get you started on a cocktail journey you won’t regret.
  • BACKYARD MOJO :  I created this cocktail to celebrate the minty goodness of a mojito and added garden fresh strawberries and lemons for a new twist on the classic.

LABOR DAY PARTY IDEA ~ THROW AN END OF SUMMER BASH!

I have mixed emotions about the end of summer. While I’m going to miss the warm nights and long days with family and friends, I do look forward to the Labor Day holiday as a time to transition into that fall state of mind. Although I’m not quite ready to turn in my summer sandals for tall black boots, I am ready to embrace the last weeks of summer the right way by launching into the Labor Day holiday and throwing an End of Summer cocktail party!

With delicious food, refreshing drinks, and good company, everyone loves a great party. But how do you make sure your end of summer cocktail party is truly great? I think throwing a picnic-style party extends the casual feeling of summer for all your guests. From there you’ll need a fantastic cocktail (or three!), some entertainment to keep your guests mingling and amused, and one final surprise to send them all home smiling. Check out the article we wrote for TheGoodStuff to see how to easy it can be!

As always, we think it’s fun to start off with the cocktail menu, so here’s a great way for you to have a little fun pumping up the patriotic theme for the Labor Day holiday. Everyone loves a good cocktail, and what a better way to get your party started then by offering them three delicious drinks to choose from?

Mason jar cocktails in red, white & blue? 'Merica!

Mason jar cocktails in red, white & blue? ‘Merica!

Pre-mix each cocktail and place them in Mason jars (you can use the 8-ounce size) so have time to enjoy mingling with your guests. With a simple, hand-drawn sign, a stack of lime wedges, and a bucket of ice you’re ready to celebrate in red, white, and blue style! Your guests simply grab a jar with their libation of choice, remove the cap, and add some ice and a lime wedge. Voila, cocktails are served!

Recipes below and ingredients listed are per cocktail.

Red Cosmo

  • 2 ounces citrus vodka (regular vodka works fine, too)
  • 1 ounce Cointreau or Grand Marnier
  • 1/2 ounce fresh-squeezed lime juice
  • 1 1/2 ounces cranberry juice

White Gin & Tonic

  • 2 ounces quality gin
  • 5 ounces tonic (I love Schweppes or Fever Tree)
  • Juice from one wedge of fresh lime

Blue Margarita

  • 3 ounces silver tequila
  • 1 ounce blue Curaçao
  • 1 1/2 ounces fresh-squeezed lime juice
  • 1/2 ounce Cointreau or Grand Marnier
  • 1/2 ounce simple syrup

As the carefree days and warm nights of summer come to a close, let everyone enter into fall with wonderful memories of an afternoon spent with friends enjoying the warmer weather and a few cocktails. There will be smiles all around!

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STRAWBERRY + LEMON + MINT MOJITO ~ THE BACKYARD MOJO

Give yourself a whole new level of mojo with this lovely summer libation

Give yourself a whole new level of mojo with this lovely summer libation

Everywhere we look we’re surrounded by the beautiful fruits of summer. Strawberries call out from the supermarket aisle just waiting to be added to cereal. Raspberries gather like little red gems ready to be mixed into a smoothie. We’re here to help you step away from that standard-issue fruit salad and see these delicious summer fruits in a completely different light–in a cocktail! So grab that shaker and some ice and let’s capture the tastes of summer with these four fresh summer fruit cocktails.

Let’s jump into this by grabbing some juicy strawberries. This first drink is great when you’re in the mood for something refreshing and fruity. Perfect for sharing with friends, the Backyard Mojo pairs strawberries with lemons and mint to create a sweetened, summer fruit mojito.

TOOLS :: Shaker, muddler
GLASS :: Highball
EXTRAS ::  Strawberries (2 berries, cut in half) and mint sprigs for garnish
SERVINGS :: 4 cocktails

INGREDIENTS :: 

  • 8 oz. gold or aged Rum
  • 2 oz. Limoncello
  • 3 oz. fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 oz. Simple Syrup (1:1 sugar to water)
  • 15-20 mint leaves
  • 5 strawberries, each cut in half
  • 1 large lemon, cut into 8 wedges

HOW TO MAKE IT ::
In cocktail shaker, muddle lemon wedges with the strawberries and mint leaves. Muddle for at least a minute to release flavors.  Add ice to shaker then add the Rum, Limoncello, lemon juice and Simple Syrup.  You need to really blend those ingredients together, so “shake it like you mean it” for at least a minute or more.
Add crushed ice to each of your glasses, filling completely to the top.  Strain cocktail into ice-filled glasses.
Garnish each glass with strawberry half and mint sprig.

For 3 more delicious Summer fruit cocktails, check out the recipes we designed for our cocktail supporter – TheGoodStuff. You can find them HERE. 

Strawberries, Raspberries, Lemons & Watermelon ~ Summer is here!

Strawberries, Lemons & Mint ~ Summer is here!