Upgrade your 'ade - spike it

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I don't know about you, but now and then I kind of regret developing high standards. I can still enjoy movies that fall into the so-bad-they're-good category (I'm looking at you, "Con Air"), but it has become harder with food and drink.

Nowhere is this more the case than with summer lemonade, which these days I typically feel morally and gastronomically compelled to make the old-school way: juicing the bright yellow fruit by the dozens, a fragrant but messy and time-consuming process. And sometimes I want to bedazzle my lemonade with booze. But when I am incorporating alcohol, I don't want its flavor to obscure the refreshing, sweetly sour blast that makes lemonade (or limeade) so great for the steamy season.

I won't go so far as to recommend that you turn back the culinary clock and take a powder to make these summer sippers. But neither will I drink-shame you into making lemonade from scratch if you don't have the time or inclination. Thankfully, these days there are acceptable grocery store options that will make good drinks, though sometimes they'll benefit from a little balancing out with a boost of fresh-squeezed juice. Look for refrigerated juices, which are more likely to have real, fresh fruit in them, and check the labels for ingredients; you're not looking for much more than fruit, sugar and water. (For the accompanying recipes, I used Newman's Own Old Fashioned Roadside Virgin Lemonade and Simply Limeade.)

While many of these juices have real citrus in them, they can still lean pretty sweet. When I opt for store-bought varieties of lemon or limeade, I typically buy extra citrus fruits to have on hand to balance them out. Even when I don't, they're great to use as garnishes. Zest a little of the peel into the drink and you'll add both color and flavor.

As mixed, the primary recipe here, Once, Twice, Three Times a Lemon, is a spiked lemonade for purists, tripling the citrus with lemonade, the Italian liqueur limoncello and citrus vodka (you can go for a decent lemon vodka like Absolut or Grey Goose, but the Buddha's Hand Citron from Hangar 1 and the citrus vodka made by St. George are both top-notch).

The other two variations here go in different directions. Summer in Padua incorporates dry sherry to bring in a different kind of acidity and an almost salty note, but sweetens the mix with bittersweet orangy Aperol and slices of strawberry (you'll want to nosh on the berries after they've been sitting in this brew for a while). And the Monks' Picnic takes advantage of the terrific pairing of herbal green Chartreuse and lime in a drink that's easy to make and light enough for sipping over an extended cookout - but tastes elegant and strange, thanks to the Chartreuse.

Both of these are about as far from that powdered stuff as you can get. In the summer heat, they'll come to your 'ade.

Once, twice, three times a lemon

(Recipe from columnist M. Carrie Allan)

1 serving

INGREDIENTS:

Ice

1 ounce citrus vodka

1 ounce limoncello

5 ounces chilled lemonade

Fresh lemon juice and sugar, as needed (optional)

Lemon wheels, for garnish

DIRECTIONS:

Fill a Collins glass with ice. Add the vodka, limoncello and lemonade and use a barspoon to stir the ingredients together. Taste the drink, and add a bit of lemon juice or sugar as needed. Garnish with a lemon wheel or two, twisting them over the glass as you drop them into the drink.

Nutrition | Per serving: 230 calories, 0 g protein, 27 g carbohydrates, 0 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 25 mg sodium, 0 g dietary fiber, 27 g sugar

Monks' picnic

(Recipe from columnist M. Carrie Allan)

1 serving

INGREDIENTS:

Ice

1 ounce gin (Any good London dry gin such as Tanqueray or Beefeater will do, but an over-proof, juniper-forward gin, such as Junipero or Sipsmith's V.J.O.P. really shines here.)

1 ounce green Chartreuse

5 ounces limeade

Pinch of salt (optional)

Lime wheel, for garnish

DIRECTIONS:

Fill a Collins glass three-quarters full with ice.

Add the gin, Chartreuse, limeade and the pinch of salt, if desired. Use a barspoon to stir the drink, then add the lime wheel garnish, giving it a little twist above the drink right before you drop it into the glass.

Nutrition | Per serving: 250 calories, 0 g protein, 32 g carbohydrates, 0 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 20 mg sodium, 0 g dietary fiber, 32 g sugar



Summer in Padua

(Recipe from columnist M. Carrie Allan)

1 serving

INGREDIENTS:

Ice

Two strawberries, cleaned, hulled and cut into slices from top to bottom

Lemon wheel, for garnish

4 ounces lemonade

2 ounces fino sherry

1 1/2 ounces Aperol

DIRECTIONS:

Add a few ice cubes, the slices of strawberry and a wheel of citrus to a large goblet or wineglass.

Fill a mixing glass with ice. Add the lemonade, sherry and Aperol; stir briefly to blend. Strain into the goblet or wineglass.

Nutrition | Per serving: 270 calories, 0 g protein, 32 g carbohydrates, 0 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 20 mg sodium, 0 g dietary fiber, 40 g sugar


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