6 Lemonade Cocktails To Enjoy On Seriously Hot Summer Days
Sweet, tart, and seriously refreshing, these drinks are ideal for sweltering afternoons.
Sweet. Tangy. Thirst Quenching. Lemonade is a classic heat-beating summer beverage for a reason. Fun fact: It, and other acidic beverages, stimulate the production of saliva, helping us feel more hydrated. So that’s what makes lemonade taste so damn refreshing.
It’s also one of the most versatile mixers around. Not only can you easily spike lemonade with nearly any spirit you like (vodka, gin, tequila and whiskey all work) but it’s sweet-sour flavor profile adds nice dimensionality and balance to more complex cocktails. Those cocktails can also take on more dynamic flavors, be they herbal, floral, earthy, or spicy.
While, sure, a simple highball hits the spot, there are many great lemonade cocktails to try. We recently asked a handful of bartenders across the country for their favorite lemonade-based drinks to take the edge off the heat as we enter the doldrums of summer. From a lavender lemonade to a cocktail that pays tribute to the flavors of the Italian coast, these drinks belong in your hand this summer.
1. Lavender Lemonade
Lavender, like lemon, is a classic summer flavor and can give cocktails a floral elegance. The distinctive herb anchors this bourbon-based cocktail served at the Montage, Palmetto Bluff. “This is a taste of the south and bourbon is our drink of choice,” says Kay Daswal, General Manager. “The acid of the lemonade gives it a bright kick and the hint of lavender, that sweet floral ‘breeze.’”
- Juice of one lemon
- 2 oz water
- 1 oz lavender simple syrup*
- 2 oz bourbon of your choice
- Lavender sprig for garnish
Squeeze juice of one lemon into a shaker with water and simple syrup. Shake and pour into a Collins glass over ice, top with bourbon, stir and garnish with a lavender sprig.
*For The Lavender Simple Syrup
- 2 cups water
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 8 lavender sprigs
In a medium saucepan, combine sugar and water. Bring to a boil, stirring, until sugar has dissolved. Place lavender sprigs in the syrup and allow to cool. Remove sprigs and store in a container for use.
2. The “Taste of Amalfi Coast”
Italy’s Amalfi Coast is famous not only as a vacation destination but also for its lemons, which permeate the local fare. This cocktail, inspired by summer holidays in Italy and designed by Patrick Jones, Bar Director of United Clubs and Polaris Lounges, sees lemon complimented by gin, rosemary, and lavender. “It’s perfect for sipping in the sun,” he says.
- 1.5 oz vodka or 1.5 oz aromatic gin
- .25 oz Suze
- 1 1-inch sprig rosemary
- 1 1-inch sprig of lavender (leaves)
- 3 oz lemonade
Pour all ingredients to a shaker and add ice. Close the lid tightly and shake vigorously for 45 seconds. Double strain into a chilled coupe glass. Garnish with lavender blossom and lemon wheel.
3. The “From Yoon With Love”
Rather than traditional lemonade, this cocktail, courtesy of Bobby Yoon, owner of Yoon Haeundae Galbi in New York City, features San Pellegrino Limonata. The lemon soda — you can use any kind you like — provides some lovely carbonation and additional body to the cocktail’s mix of grapefruit juice, pisco, and soju. “This is a great recipe to whip up for backyard entertaining that will surely impress friends and family,” says Bobby Yoon, owner of Yoon Haeundae Galbi in New York City.
- 2 oz Hwayo 25 Soju
- 1 oz Pisco
- 0.5 oz Grapefruit juice
- 0.5 oz simple syrup
- Top with Limonata (or other lemon soda)
Combine all ingredients into a cocktail shaker. Add ice to a rocks glass. Pour ingredients into glass and top with Limonata. Garnish with a dehydrated lime wheel and (or) a rose bud.
4. The John Daly
The Arnold Palmer is a hall of fame drink. The 50/50 mix of iced tea and lemonade is sweet, tart, and refreshing as hell. Add a bit of vodka, however, and the drink becomes an homage to another golfer: John Daly. While, no, this certainly isn’t a complex cocktail, it has exactly what a summer day requires. “It’s a delicious and refreshing cocktail that is perfect for summer on the course, or by the pool,” says Reuben Atkinson, Cellar Wine Manager Reynolds Lake Oconee.
- 1.5 oz vodka
- 2 oz sweet tea
- 2 oz lemonade
- lemon wedge
Build over ice in a highball glass.
5. The Pinehurst Lemonade
Now one of the most popular offerings at the Pinehurst Resort’s Deuce Bar, the signature lemonade was created by Jenny Rodriguez last year as part of a bragging rights competition among bartenders. The winner’s recipe earned a permanent spot on the menu. Rodriguez says the aim was to create something that would offer some respite to the North Carolina heat and “enhance the Pinehurst Experience” and be refreshing after playing 18 holes at the resort’s course. Her recipe calls for sour mix, which is essentially lemon-limeade made with equal parts lemon and lime juice.
- 1.5 oz Bacardi Limon
- 2 oz sour mix
- 1/2 oz lemon
- 1/2 oz lime juice,
- 1 bar spoon agave syrup
- 1 oz Firefly Sweet Tea Vodka
Fill a highball glass with ice and build the cocktail. Stir until the agave dissolves and float the Firefly Sweet Tea Vodka on top.
6. The Morning Glory
For those who might appreciate a non-traditional take on a lemonade and tea based cocktail, Joseph Rodriguez, lead barista at Portland’s Lolo Pass, adds turmeric to the juice and uses a hibiscus tea rather than more orthodox black tea variants. “Fresh turmeric has been used for millennia for its anti-inflammatory actions, anti-fungal, astringent properties, as well as to stimulate blood flow,” Rodriguez says. “When paired with the incredibly cooling and moistening hibiscus you have a delicious match made in heaven.”
Ingredients (Makes 4 drinks)
- 1.5 oz of rum or tequila
- *Turmeric lemonade
- **Hibiscus tea
Add 1.5oz of your choice of rum or tequila to a Collins glass full of ice and fill the glass with 2/3 turmeric lemonade. Top with hibiscus tea.
*For The Turmeric Lemonade
- Zest of a half lemon
- 1 tsp grated fresh turmeric
- 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 cup white sugar
- 2 cups water
Boil 1 cup of water and add lemon zest, turmeric and sugar. Remove from heat and let ingredients come to room temperature. Strain into a pitcher, then add lemon juice and 1 cup of water.
** For The Hibiscus Tea
- 1/4 cup loose hibiscus tea
- 1 cup boiling water
- 1/8 cup white sugar
Mix all ingredients together. Let steep for 15-20 minutes and strain