What’s So Hard About Being a Lemon?

You know the saying: When life gives you lemons… But why stop at just plain old lemonade? Why not bring lemonade from the stand to the shaker and beyond?

When you hear “Hard Lemonade” it probably brings to mind the bottled malt beverages that come in a variety of flavor options. To make this sort of lemonade, it takes your basic home brew kit, some sorbate-free lemon juice concentrate, malt extract and yeast (the brewing kind). While I’m sure there’s finesse required to make a truly exceptional hard lemonade this way, the 6 to 8 weeks it would take before it was ready is a bit of a deterrent.

If you’d like something a bit quicker, try one of these recipes on for size:

Sunny’s Hard Lemonade
(adapted from Cooking for Real on the Food Network)

4 oz 2:1 Simple syrup
1 oz Vanilla Vodka
2 oz Lemon Juice

Mix over ice in a tall glass. Serves 1. Garnish with a slice of lemon, lime, or both.

Now you know I’m going to love this because of the vanilla vodka, right? Of course! It’s actually a good, fresh lemonade, very tart, but that hint of vanilla just makes it oh-so-good. Plus, with the relatively low alcohol content you could sip these all through a barbecue or pool party with little worry.

Hard Lemonade
(adapted from DrinksMixer.com)

1.5 oz Jim Beam Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
.5 oz Sweet and Sour Mix
4-6 oz. Sprite
Splash of Grenadine

Combine, in order, in a tall glass over ice.

The original called for Jack Daniel’s but I didn’t have any and Squirt is kinda hard to find around here. I wouldn’t mind trying it with a citrus soda that had more grapefruit influences (I’ll bet I could find a good substitute at World Market–their beverage section is awesome) and see what difference it made. The taste of this version is, obviously, stronger and Todd thinks that going down to a single ounce of Whiskey might be a better plan for those not into the harder flavors. The grenadine really makes this one for me, though, the touch of sweet pink making it more palatable than if it were just the booze and soda.

Of course, if you prefer your lemonade with a different edge, have you ever had the Earl Grey Lemonade from Earl of Sandwich? The recipe couldn’t be simpler: brew a pot of fairly strong Earl Grey tea and then dilute with a can of lemonade mix (the frozen kind is fine) and the 2 or 3 cans of water it calls for. It’s incredibly refreshing and suitable for all ages.

I know that school will be starting again very soon and, with it, the end of what we think of as Summer. But the heat will surely continue for many months, at least down here in Florida, so there’s still plenty of time to enjoy your lemonade–hard or soft.