Recently, I was lucky enough to enjoy a meal at the renown Vedge restaurant in Philadelphia. As I’d driven (3 hours each way just for the meal!) I was sadly unable to drink my wino self under the table. Yes, I was forced to browse the menu for abstainers, and hence settled on a simple glass of lemonade. But Vedge being, you know, Vedge, they couldn’t serve just lemonade. It had to be something above that, and I’m pretty sure chamomile was the secret ingredient.
Since that meal I’ve been thinking about the possibilities with lemonade, and there are plenty. We know the usual suspects of raspberry, strawberry, blueberry, mint, and even lavender, but what about more atypical variations? I opened my spice cupboard and, after cleaning up everything that promptly fell out because I still don’t know how to put stuff in cupboards in a way that it doesn’t do that, I opted for the following combinations: matcha tea, jasmine with kaffir lime, lavender with toasted coriander, and bubblegum.
If I had to choose a favourite, I’d side with the jasmine and kaffir lime leaf drink. It’s the least bold flavour, but in my opinion the most expansive. The floral element imparted by the jasmine is mellow yet clearly present, and combined with the distinct perfumed flavour of lime leaf this drink is simply divine. It’s really hard to describe this particular lemonade in a way that doesn’t make me sound pretentious. How about you just try it.
The lavender lemonade packs the strongest punch, but the subtle hint of toasted coriander elevates it to something far more interesting. The coriander affords a barely perceptible woodiness, but pay attention and you’ll find it and love it. Or hate it. Whatever. Gah, again with the pretentious.
The matcha lemonade recipe bridges the gap between green tea’s bitterness and sugary brilliance. I agree with most folks that matcha is an acquired taste (it’s bitter and earthy, a bit like how I’d expect lawn cuttings to taste), but I like it nevertheless. I think starting with sweet recipes using this ingredient is a good way to begin your inevitable addiction.
Finally, the bubblegum lemonade feels a bit like a cop out recipe, but I’m including it because it pleases my palate. What I mean to say is, in actual fact, my tastes haven’t advanced much past that of a six year old’s – favourite food? Candy floss.
My bog standard lemonade recipe contains a cup of water, 2-3 tablespoons simple syrup, and 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice; the recipes here derive from that original. These are all single serving, so make more if you’re wanting a jug of ‘ade to serve your buddies. I can’t promise, but I’m pretty sure the recipes would all be pretty tasty with a splash or three of vodka or gin. Also, your friends might like and/or judge you more if you do that.
I’ve also provided a recipe, if you can even call it that, for simple syrup. It’s a 1:1 ratio of sugar to water, and is great to have handy for sweetening drinks, especially cocktails. Find a spare bottle or jar and store the leftovers for later (tip: you can infuse the sugar syrup with all sorts of flavours for tasty and unique cocktails).
- Combine the sugar and the water in a saucepan and heat until the sugar dissolves. Allow to cool before use.
Jasmine & Kaffir Lime Leaf Lemonade
- Add the jasmine flowers and lime leaf to the water in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Remove from the heat, cover, and leave for ten minutes to infuse.
- Strain the infusion and add the lemon and syrup. Allow to cool and serve with ice.
- Combine all ingredients and mix well.
Lavender & Toasted Coriander Lemonade
- Toast the coriander seeds by heating a pan over medium high heat and dry frying the seeds, agitating the pan frequently, until toasty brown and fragrant. Remove from the pan and crush the seeds with a pestle and mortar.
- Bring the water, toasted crushed coriander, and lavender to the boil in a small saucepan. Remove from the heat, cover, and leave to infuse for ten minutes.
- Strain and add apple juice, syrup, and lemon juice. Allow to cool and serve with ice.
- Combine all ingredients and drink like you’re at a toddler’s birthday party!