Not Yo’ Momma’s Lemonade

We’re heading into summer party season, and whether you’re hosting a big crowd or just a few friends, it’s a great idea to whip up a batch of thirst-quenching pitcher drinks in advance so there’s more fun for you—no need to tend bar—and your guests can help themselves whenever they want.

This super-easy lemony creation by Sharon Tyler Herbst, which appeared in Drinks magazine, is potent, so beware. (To decrease the alcohol level, add cold water to taste, which is what I did.) If you’re unfamiliar with limoncello, it’s an Italian liqueur that’s a sugar-sweetened infusion of lemons and alcohol. (Herbst is the author of The Ultimate Guide to Pitcher Drinks, among many other food and drink books.)

If you substitute bourbon for the vodka in this recipe, it becomes Kentucky Lemonade; swap silver tequila for the vodka and triple sec for the limoncello to make Mexican Lemonade.

Another quick and easy lemony cocktail I like is blue raspberry vodka and lemonade—plus it’s easy to mix up a pitcher of these. It’s simply one part blue raspberry vodka to two parts lemonade.

A note on ice: You may think frozen water is frozen water, but be selective about the quality of the ice you use: Bad-tasting ice can ruin the flavor of an entire pitcherful of drinks, cautions Herbst. And ice can only taste as good as the water from which it’s made. If your tap water is highly chlorinated or otherwise off-tasting, use packaged ice. Also, don’t substitute cubes for crushed ice in drinks that call for the latter—cubes just won’t contribute the right texture. On the other hand, crushed ice melts much faster than ice cubes, diluting a drink more quickly, so don’t use it if a recipe calls for ice cubes. (An ice crusher comes in handy if you don’t have a freezer that dispenses crushed ice. They range from manual crank styles to electric models.)

Look for additional ideas ahead as I’ll feature more pitcher perfect drinks this summer. Here’s to relaxing and celebrating with ease! Cheers!

Not Yo’ Momma’s Lemonade

Makes 12 (6-ounce) servings

1 12-oz. can thawed frozen lemonade concentrate
1 750 ml bottle vodka
2 c. spiced rum
2 c. water
34 cup limoncello or other lemon flavored liqueur
Garnish: 10 lemon slices and mint sprigs

Combine all ingredients except garnish in a pitcher that holds at least 85 ounces; stir well. Can be served immediately or covered and refrigerated until ready to serve. Fill 10-ounce tall glasses or wine glasses two-thirds full with ice cubes. Pour in drink mixture; garnish each serving with a lemon slice and mint sprig.

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Mary Subialka is the editor of Real Food and Drinks magazines, covering the flavorful world of food, wine and spirits. She rarely meets a chicken she doesn’t like, and hopes that her school-age son, who used to eat beets and Indian food, will one day again think of real food as more than a means to a treat—and later share this with his younger brother.