ADE IN THE SHADE
Lemonade is a versatile, wholesome, and delicious thirst quencher that's easy and cheap to make even for those squeezing lemons by hand with a citrus squeezer or a small electric juicer, inexpensive tools that pay for themselves after just a few batches. (Find squeezers for $3; a cheery Proctor-Silex Alex's Lemonade Stand Citrus Juicer is $14 at Target.) Buying lemons in bulk brings even more savings, making these recipes way cheaper than a round of soft drinks from the store or restaurant and just as delicious -- whether a classic lemonade is on the menu or a more sophisticated version infused with fruits and herbs, or spiked with booze.
This classic lemonade recipe, made from just three ingredients, is all about old-fashioned comfort. Add more or less sugar to find the perfect tartness and sweetness.
EXTRA LEMONY LEMONADE
Using the zest in addition to the juice of lemons makes for a bold take on the classic. A pinch of salt adds a bit of zing that's imperceptible at the end, but livens up the flavors the same as in sweet baking recipes.
Recipe: Adventure Kitchen
MIXED CITRUS LEMONADE
Why let lemons have all the fun? Throw in any kind of citrus, including limes, grapefruit, and oranges, to create a mixed citrus lemonade -- especially good for using up old citrus that you have on hand. (This recipe uses lemons, limes, and oranges.)
Blueberries and lemons go together well, and this thirst quencher doubles up on the berry: in the syrup and fresh, as garnish. Frozen works just as well as fresh.
Recipe: Damn Delicious
STRAWBERRY MAPLE LEMONADE
Another recipe that works well with fresh or frozen fruit, as well as using maple syrup for an extra layer of flavor, highlighting the natural sweet-tart flavors of the strawberries.
Recipe: Nirvana Cakery
RASPBERRY PEPPER LEMONADE
Black pepper and lemons appear in recipes together all the time, so why not in a drink? The pungent and piquant black pepper actually enhances the sweetness of the beverage while making the brightness of the lemon pop. This grown-up version of lemonade is also good spiked with vodka.
Blackberries spoil fast and tend to be on the pricier side for fruit, so this is a tasty way to use up berries before they go bad and even extending their flavor. Blackberries are sweet-tart, making this a not-too-sweet version of a fruited lemonade.
Recipe: Live Well Bake Often
Using herbs in sweet things such as cookies and beverages is a good trend. The subtle hint of thyme makes this beverage earthy and refreshing -- reminiscent of a garden stroll. Substitute or add a favorite herb, such as rosemary, lemon balm, or chamomile.
Recipe: The Little Epicurean
BASIL CUCUMBER LEMONADE
This version feels fancy, like something served at a spa. The mildly sweet and earthy flavors add flavor without sugar, and it's a great way to take advantage of a summer garden.
ICED TEA LEMONADE
When fresh lemons are not available, this recipe works well with inexpensive lemonade concentrate. The iced tea -- use any kind, from classic black to herbal green -- helps cut the sugar so the final product is light and refreshing.
PINK GRAPEFRUIT LEMONADE
Millennial pink is all the rage, and it's super easy to make your lemonade on trend. Use fresh pink grapefruits and honey for a flavor that really pops, matching the intensity of the color for a simple, yet impressive beverage.
TROPICAL MANGO LEMONADE
A sip makes it feel like you are on a beach vacation. Mangos can be very sweet, so it's important to taste the mix before adding the sugar syrup to get the balance right.
Recipe: Immaculate Bites
The tart flavor and rich color of pomegranate make it a fun addition to lemonade. (It adds antioxidants, too.) Since pomegranate juice is so tart, it matches well with condensed, canned lemonade mix for a full-flavored beverage balanced between sweet and tangy.
Recipe: The Tiptoe Fairy
Hibiscus imparts a hot pink to liquids, making this particularly festive. Since lemons and hibiscus are naturally sour, just a bit of each is needed to flavor an entire batch, keeping the cost of this lemonade way down.
Recipe: Restless Chipotle
SPARKLING GINGER LEMONADE
Using sparkling water upgrades any lemonade to a celebratory treat. This recipe includes piquant ginger to complement the crisp bubbles.
Recipe: Taste of Home
SUMMER PEACH LEMONADE
Summer peaches are full of juicy flavor, but they tend to have a short season when they are plentiful and inexpensive. Take advantage! But thawed frozen peaches can be used with good results, and nectarines and even apricots work also.
Recipe: Gather for Bread
Lavender adds a gentle floral sweetness to recipes, but can quickly become overwhelming and end up tasting like a cleaning or beauty product. Using just a small amount of food-grade dried flowers imparts plenty of flavor, which means each time you'll be using only a few cents worth of lavender for a batch.
Recipe: Taste of Home
VODKA LEMONADE SODA
Substituting sparkling water for still water and adding a splash of vodka takes regular lemonade to craft cocktail status. To be able to offer alcoholic and non-alcoholic versions, keep the concentrate of sugar and lemon juice on hand and add water and optional alcohol on request.
Recipe: Tito's Vodka
BOURBON SPIKED LEMONADE
Bourbon and lemonade is an easy combination and a quick cocktail for summer. Adjust ratios depending on the bourbon, but start with 1.5 parts bourbon to 4 parts lemonade before adding more to taste.