I know, I know. In food-blog land right now it’s all about picking apples and pumpkin everything. And yet, why am I doing a post on a lemon cocktail? Well, it may be autumn, but here in Helena, Montana, it’s going to be 87 degrees today, and a nice cool lemonade will be just the ticket after an afternoon lugging huge plants inside in preparation for a winter that I know is coming.
You know those lists of desert island ingredients that someone is always coming up with? No? Go ahead, take a break, and Google “chefs’ desert island ingredients.” You’ll have 3,270,000 lists to choose from. Lemons definitely would be on my list. You can use lemon for sweet or savory dishes, and it prevents scurvy. Now how can you beat that? Plus, unlike other hyper-seasonal produce, lemons are available year ‘round.
I came across a little book called “Clean Cocktails” that had some pretty interesting drink recipes that use no refined sugar, and all natural ingredients. That’s pretty much my message here at Jeannine’s Cuisine, though not all the recipes I feature include alcohol! Although I’m generally not a big cocktail person, once in a while it’s nice to have something in the evening instead of the ubiquitous glass of white wine. After a quick flip through the book, I went looking for lemon recipes and decided to try the Meyer Lemonade.
The recipe starts with making a honey syrup that you can make as strong or light as you like, depending on the type of honey you use. Generally, the lighter the honey, the less pronounced the honey taste will be. Then, it’s on to the cocktail itself. It goes together quickly. Honey and lemons are all you need for a great spur-of-the-moment cocktail.
I’ve provided the ingredients for a pitcher of lemonade and for a single drink which is in parentheses. I used 8-ounce mason jars filled with ice for serving. If you can’t find Meyer lemons, regular lemons are okay. The mint sprigs are totally optional but add a nice touch to the drink.
For the syrup:
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup water
Combine honey and water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium high heat. Lower heat and simmer, stirring constantly, until the honey has completely dissolved. Pour into an 8-ounce jar and allow to cool for 1 hour. The syrup will keep in the refrigerator for 3 months.
For the lemonade:
1 1/2 cups (2 ounces) vodka
1 cup (1 ounce, 1 lemon) Meyer lemon juice (about 8 lemons)
1 cup (1 ounce) honey syrup (see above)
1 cup (1 ounce) soda water, divided
Lemon slices and mint sprigs for garnish
Combine the vodka, lemon juice, and honey syrup in a 1-quart pitcher and stir until combined. Pour the lemonade into ice filled glasses, leaving space at the top of each for about an ounce of soda water. Top off with soda and garnish with lemon slice and optional mint sprig.
Adapted from Clean Cocktails – Righteous Recipes for the Modern Mixologist by Beth Ritter Nydick and Tara Roscioli