We admit that a simple vodka and lemonade is pretty close to perfect when lounging by the pool or sunning on the beach. But the sweet, tangy summertime staple deserves a little more love than a glug of liquor. Because lemonade is more than just a mixer—it’s a sweet and sour savior that over the years has kept you cool at sweltering picnics, dusty county fairs and sweaty cookouts. So we decided to elevate the marriage of lemonade and booze with things like fresh fruit, herbs and top-shelf spirits. From a classic porch swing sipper to a version spiked with lavender and soju, these refreshing lemonade cocktails will keep you refreshed and relaxed all season long.
3 New Ways to Spike Your Lemonade and Live Your Best Summer
Making lemonade is all about finding that perfect balance—at least that’s what Stuart Humphries, bar manager at The Pass & Provisions in Houston, TX, says. “Some people like their drinks a little more tart or on the sweeter side, but it's that play between acid and sugar that makes a really good sour,” says Humphries. “And that's really what lemonade is—a virgin sour.” For his herbaceous take on the lemony refresher, Humphries spiked lemonade with two flavor bombs: “We use a combination of the off-dry and herbaceous Cardamaro and London dry gin,” he says. “The sweeter amaro and the overall tartness of the citrus come together for a really refreshing drink." Humphries says the resulting cocktail is reminiscent of a fizzy Tom Collins, which is already essentially “boozy lemonade.” Count us in.
London Dry Gin
Floral, with just enough of a tart kick, this refreshing cocktail is best sipped under the sun. Made with a base of low-ABV lavender-infused soju, it’s exactly what you want in a cooling day drink. But despite its mellow character, the drink isn’t lacking in flavor. "We wanted to create something for summer that would have a refreshing citrus flavor and that would compliment the fragrant earthy notes of our favorite lavender infusion," says Moki Polus, bartender at Redlight Truckee in Truckee, CA. Though the lavender-infused soju will take some time to make, the cocktail itself is a cinch. It might become your permanent summer companion.
Soju or Shochu
sweet and sour mix
Blackberry Bourbon Lemonade—there’s a phrase that makes us want to hop on the porch swing and while away the day until the hot summer sun dips below the horizon. This cooling cocktail is easy to whip up on a scorching day, but its balanced flavor and cute presentation also make it perfect for dinner parties. “Created with bourbon, fresh lemon juice and Angostura, this famed Southern punch has a tart, bitter taste with just the right amount of sweetness,” says Daniel Toral of Miami’s Yardbird. If you’re not a blackberry fan, feel free to muddle blueberries or raspberries instead.