When Life Gives You Lemonade, Make Extraordinary Lemonade
Few things are more endearing than buying a cup of powdered-mix lemonade from a group of entrepreneurial kids on the side of the road, but there’s something to be said for homemade lemonade. While my go-to is to mix freshly squeezed juice with water, a spoonful of sugar, and plenty of ice, sometimes topped off with a splash of seltzer, two versionsI’ve had this summer have a hold on me like none other. I need to share them with the class.
Food writer Melissa Clark recently posted a bright-green drink on Instagram. “Handful mint leaves, ice, chunks of whole lemon, honey. Blend,” she wrote in the caption. Pure poetry. Whole lemon is key here. Blending the bitter pith and fragrant peel along with the lemon’s flesh brings complexity to the drink in a decidedly non-Country Time way. After making this drink a few times, I have some tips, especially if you’re not working with a high-power blender (though that is actually my first tip): A high-power blender will help you achieve the desired slushie consistency. Next, I’d recommend slicing the lemon into chunks to make it easier to remove the seeds as well as help blend the drink more evenly. Haters would perhaps not call this real lemonade, but I ask you to first take a big sip. Watch out for brain freeze though.
If classic lemonade texture is more your speed, Aba’s Falafel in Rhinebeck, New York, makes a lemonade worth traveling for—or copying. Called simply “Lemonade (Roy’s Special),” the drink looks like regular lemonade, but one sip reveals there’s a lot more going on. Roy Naor, the owner of Aba’s, told me that the he adds star anise, as well as a bit of Stevia. Though I couldn’t get his full recipe, I’ve remade the drink almost exactly using this formula.
Make a simple syrup by boiling ½ cup sugar dissolved in ½ cup water with 4 star anise pods.
When the syrup has thickened slightly, take it off the heat and let it cool slightly before passing it through a sieve.
Cool the syrup completely in the fridge.
To make one serving of lemonade, whisk together the juice of 1 lemon, 2-3 teaspoons star anise simple syrup, and a pinch of fine sea salt. Stir in 3/4 cup cold water, then pour over ice.