Wine & Spirits

Wine & spirits: Lemon aid

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Wine & Spirits

Wine & spirits: Lemon aid

Lemonade is summer's all-purpose thirst-quencher, appealing to all ages, classes and cultures. When it’s hot outside, there's no quicker way to cool down inside than with an icy glassful of the classic drink. But with a tweak or two to the standard recipe, it's easy to transform that "olde-tyme" refreshment into a sophisticated, adult-only libation.

Mix it up
Playing bartender is much like playing chef. The creative cook puts his or her own stamp on a dish by assessing which ingredients or processes are untouchable, and which are open to replacement or alteration.

Since lemonade is a straightforward blend of lemon juice and sugar diluted with icy cold water, there are a variety of things you can do to alter and enhance it. The only ingredient that’s irreplaceable is the lemon, of course. Otherwise, do anything – but don’t change the balance of sweetness and tartness that gives this drink its special snap.

Try this: In place of refined granulated white sugar, add demerara sugar, maple syrup, Grand Marnier, wildfl ower honey, golden corn syrup, the bright red liquid from a jar of maraschino cherries, or any other soluble sugar substitute.

Instead of fresh cold water, use chilled steeped tea, club soda, tonic water, juice, lager beer, white wine, hard cider, vodka, champagne or any combination that excites you. (However, I don't recommend milk, as it may curdle when confronted by freshly squeezed lemon.)

And why waste valuable glass space on cubes of mere frozen water? Instead, you can pre-chill your glassware and all liquid ingredients, then finish off the drink with delicious frozen whole raspberries and blueberries, strawberry pieces, fruit chunks, lime segments or lemon wheels. The frozen fruit will keep your drink cold longer and add a decorative splash of colour
as well as a lovely nuance of flavour.Lemonade challenge
I carried out a few experiments to find out which spirits made the best adultonly libations. Here are the results.

A shot of a flavoured white spirit, such as vodka, gin or rum, added to freshly made lemonade seemed like the easiest option to start with. I tested several name-brand products flavoured with either lemon or lime, all priced at around $25 for a standard-size bottle.

Lemon-flavoured vodkas, like Absolut Citron, Smirnoff Citrus Twist and Gilbey's Lemon Gin, boosted the lemonade's body and gave it some kick, but did little to enhance its overall flavour. Bacardi Limón was the exception – it gave the lemonade terrific richness and lovely hints of spice, as only a rum-based liquor could.

The most compatible flavoured spirits in this challenge were those spiked with lime – products such as Beefeater Lime gin, Finlandia Lime Fusion vodka and Smirnoff Lime Twist vodka – each of which lifted the aromas
and taste of the lemonade to adult standards while retaining that lively balance so appealing in a warm-weather refreshment. You already buy products from these and other liquor companies, so why not go to the source and get cocktail ideas from their websites? Google your favourite producers to see what novel suggestions they have to offer.

Just as easy
Italian drink makers definitely know how to squeeze the most fl avour from the sour yellow orb and have created some of the easiest ways to drink grown-up lemonade.

Lemon liqueurs, like Lemoncella, Lemoncello and Limoncello (all brand-names selling for about $20), are the simplest solution. Simply chill, pour over ice, and enjoy. If you prefer to have less of a kick, dilute with your choice of tonic, soda, ginger ale, tea or fruit juice. Add a garnish for fun.


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Wine & Spirits

Wine & spirits: Lemon aid