The crazy mixed up lemonade that almost wasn’t…

My husband walked in the door last week with a recipe. He and some colleagues had been at a dinner function a few weeks prior where the meal had been carefully prepared by a chef, and apparently they had some kind of magical spiced lemonade. So, when the recipe was finally passed on to a few members of the dinner party; it was almost like when the Mrs. Field’s cookie recipe became known.

Since he was raving about it, I changed my plan to make this for our 4th of July BBQ with friends {sorry Gwen – I am still totally gonna make it!} and try the lemonade instead. As I checked out the recipe to see what ingredients it called for, I was was fine with the 2-3 cans of lemonade concentrate, the fruit of choice and the option to garnish with fresh basil or mint.  I figured I would need to double the recipe to make enough for the bbq, so I mentally calculated the doubled amounts and stopped in my tracks when I saw that the recipe called for 1/4 cup each of 4 spices.  Doubling that would call for 1/2 CUP? What??

I don’t use anywhere near 1/4 cup of any spice in my holiday gingerbread cookie recipe that makes an enormous amount of dough.

Stumped, I consulted with another person who had been at the dinner function and someone who’s had many more years of cooking than I.  She was equally shocked and suggested doubling the lemonade but not the spices.  Ok, sounds reasonable.  Then, I figured, I would just start out by trying the actual recipe.

So, I got the lemonade going and all you do is make it as if you are just making regular ol’ lemonade, but make it in a pan on the stove. I know, it seems counter-intuitive to make lemonade hot. But stick with me…

Then, the really confusing part, I added the 1/4 CUP of each: ground cinnamon, nutmeg, coriander and pickling spices.

I did it, but it seemed so weird wrong!

I boiled the lemonade and all the spices, let it steep for 10 minutes, as instructed, and then strained it and set it in the fridge to chill.  As I made it, it sure smelled good, even if a bit like autumn and it looked like I was making spiced apple cider instead of lemonade. Crazy. Mixed up.

When it was chilled, I got a glass with ice and poured some and took  a sip. EWWW. YUCK. NO!  I didn’t give away my reaction and called my husband in to taste it. I handed him the glass with as straight a face as I could muster and just asked him, “is THIS what it tasted like that night?”

No.  Head shaking, no.



So, I made more regular lemonade and mixed it in.

Still No.

Horrid, actually. The spices actually kind of burned as it went down…

I tossed it all, down the drain it went.  Seemed like a waste but there was no other option.

I am not one to give up though and I called my “consultant again”; I wanted to head her off at the pass and spare her the same misadventures and I needed her advice. We decided together that it had to be 1/4 tsp of spices…there is no other standard measurement in the 1/4 range…there is no 1/4 TBSP and so it had to be 1/4 teaspoon. Teaspoon vs. cup…yeah, I mix those two  up ALL the time. Hmph!

I started over and made the lemonade and this time added just 1/4 TSP of each of the four spices.

Much better. It didn’t smell like October and it didn’t look like apple cider.

After straining it [much easier the second time around, with LOTS less to be straied, duh!] and chilling it, I tried round two.

Mmmm.  Yummm.  Yes.

I called in my husband, and with an equally straight face, I offered him another glass and the same question, “is THIS what it tasted like that night?”

Yes. Head nodding, yes.



So, I got busy and made my second batch so I’d have enough for the BBQ on the 4th. Instead of the basil or mint and fruit garnish {I forgot to get it and frankly, was a bit worn out over this} I decided to add some spike to the spice. I froze some strawberry daquiri drinks in star shaped ice cube trays.

So that I would have something that looks like this

It was a hit and we are still enjoying it…I made more than enough, which is a great payoff for all the crazy confusion!

So, here’s the real deal:

    • Use 3 cans of lemonade concentrate and the right amount of water as if you were making it just to drink
    • Prepare the lemonade in a pan on the stovetop
    • Add in 1/4 TSP of ground nutmeg, cinnamon, coriander and pickling spices
    • Bring to a boil and then turn off but let the mixture steep for 10 minutes.
    • Immediately strain the spices out and then chill.
    • When chilled, serve over ice and garnish as you wish. The recipe called for basil or mint and some fresh fruit of choice. I needed a drink by that point so I added rum laced star shaped ice cubes. Don’t judge.

It really is magical, the spices do really add something special and unique … once I tasted it, it was totally all worth the crazy experimentation. And that’s the story of the crazy mixed up lemonade that almost wasn’t.  But I am glad it was. In fact, I am drinking it as I write this post.



10 thoughts on “The crazy mixed up lemonade that almost wasn’t…

  1. This so made me laugh out LOUD! (still giggling) Afraid I have “tossed” many a good ingredient due to bad info! Glad you got it! I will try this! (in my mind I was calculating the cost of all of those spices!!! 😉 ) CHEERS! (am thinking I might add a little Patron)


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