When Life Hands You Lemons
by Sheila Swerling-Puritt
Although it is now September, these hot summer-like days simply cry out for the juice of citrus fruits, loudest of all for lemons.
As the most acidic member of the family, the lemon yields bracing juice that brims with flavour and begs for mixing with substances that will transform that acidity from tart to refreshing and balanced. (Oh, sure, we all know that it gives your hair a great shine after shampooing, cleans brass and silverware, works as a grease-cutter around the home – but those are other stories...). Once the lemon's sting has been tamed, it becomes the ideal element in a bevy of refreshing cocktails.
Sugar is the most natural partner to lemons, as the French discovered around 1630 when the sweet stuff, imported from France's Caribbean colonies, dropped in price, leading entrepreneurs in Paris to create and market lemonade. I was told that this instantly successful warm weather quaff was blended from lemon juice, sugar and water (which made it "-ade" rather than the "juice" which we get directly from the lemon, lime or orange). The popularity of lemonade remains high and much of Europe's lemonade tends to be carbonated these days. Children love it either pink or pale yellow over ice and it works beautifully with gin or vodka for you grown-up kids.
A number of widely available lemon-based liqueurs give you several ways of getting the fruit's refreshing flavours into your mixed drinks. Lemoncello, an old favourite in Canadian markets, is an Italian mix of pure alcohol, sugar, lemons and water. Chilled neat or on the rocks, it makes for a good digestive after a meal.
Europa Lemon Meingue Dutch Cream, recently released, is a smooth liquor made from neutral spirits, cream, caramel and an infusion of lemon peel. On its own, it's a glass of pie for dessert on hot night. Mixed into a cocktail, it provides a rich creamy version of the lemon.
Meanwhile, Absolut has done it again. Their new line extension is called Berri Açaí. This is a bold new flavour that marries blueberry, pomegranate and açaí berry. Sounds pretty healthy to me. I added it to lemonade and then dropped in some fresh blueberries to garnish – it was yet another Absolut delight!
Remember always tweak to your own taste. I do.
- 1 English cucumber, peeled and cubed
- 12 oz. frozen pink lemonade
- 2 litres lemon-lime carbonated beverage
- Blend cucumber in the blender until very smooth.
- Pour into a large pitcher. Add lemonade concentrate and let sit for 10 minutes.
- Add carbonated beverage.
- Pour over ice-filled highball glasses.
- Garnish with cucumber slice and fresh mint.
- 1½ oz. Absolut Berri Açaí
- 1½ oz. Hpnotiq (or Blue Curaçao)
- Garnish with a maraschino cherry
- Place vodka and Hpnotiq in shaker. Shake well with ice.
- Pour into an ice filled highball glass.
- Top up with lemonade, add garnish
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