I remember completely futile and pointless lemonade stands. My childhood best friend, Lindsey, and I would mix a batch of Country Time, pour it into a plastic pitcher, and wait by the road behind a table for cars to stop and taste our wares. Over the course of the five or so years we lived on the same street, I think we got fewer than ten customers, mostly because no one really drives by residential streets.┬áHad we been smart, we would have begged our parents to drive us out to the park or the community pool, where the foot traffic and thirsty children might better help us rake in the dough. Instead, we left ourselves a convenient “out”: after about ten minutes of sitting in the stifling Texas heat, we grew bored, abandoned our posts, and did something more worthwhile with our time. Like play in the sprinklers or torment my little sister.

If we’d been really smart, we’d also have secretly spiked our lemonade. Once word got out, I bet cars would have lined up for blocks to pay a quarter for a quick, refreshing, boozy pick-me-up on a hot summer day. Soccer moms from all over could have subsidized the fun of two ten-year-old entrepreneurs while secretly getting tipsy during little Jimmy’s Saturday game. How young we were, that it never occurred to us to try anything at all to increase our profits.

But profits were never the point of the lemonade stand. I think we manned our stand once a summer because we were supposed to. The commercials made it look exciting and fun, and although the prospect of buying all that grape soda from the convenience store (which was too far away for me to venture alone, but to which Lindsey occasionally talked me into venturing anyway) made the stand enticing, it was fun to have a project on a dull day. It was an adventure– mixing the lemonade, stealing plastic cups from our parents’ cabinets, dragging tables and chairs outside, decorating a sign to attract thirsty locals. Even abandoning the project was fun, because it led us to our Next Big Thing, which usually involved pretending to get ourselves in trouble.

This lemonade has the potential to get you in trouble. The booze is entirely optional, but why would you skip it? The beauty of this, and any of the spiked drinks you see on this site, is that you can tone the booze down, or boost it, to your comfort level. Personally, I’m a lightweight, but I suspect Lindsey would have been made of stronger stuff.

Spiked Mint Lemonade
Adapted from Simply Recipes
Makes 1 pitcher
Note: to make it alcohol-free, just skip the booze!

You will need:
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1 cup fresh-squeezed lemon juice (65 or 6 lemons)
3-4 cups cold water
1 oz. per serving liquor of your choice (I used tequila, but rum and vodka would both be delicious)
Fresh mint sprigs

Combine sugar and 1 cup water in a saucepan over medium heat, and heat until sugar is completely dissolved. This makes simple syrup!

Meanwhile, juice 5 or 6 lemons to get 1 cup lemon juice. I use my hands, but if you have a juicer, go for it.

Combine simple syrup, lemon juice, and water in a pitcher, and add ice. Add lemon slices and mint to the pitcher. Now you have Virgin Lemonade.

To spike the lemonade, either add the booze to the pitcher itself, or (my personal preference), sugar the rim of a tumbler, add ice and about a shot of liquor, and fill the glass with lemonade. Garnish with a lemon wedge and a mint sprig.

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