Earlier this year I was looking for a recipe for home-made lemonade. I wanted to find something that would have the words “classic” or “original” attached to it, and I did find several recipes, but they were all a bit different from each other. True, they all had the same three elements: water, lemon juice and sugar, but in slightly different proportions. Eventually I just ended up making a lemonade, that I myself liked, but I have no idea how “classic” or “original” it was. That bothered me a little, until just last week I realized that it actually doesn’t matter.
I took the mixology class from MasterClass, that was hosted by Lynette Marrero & Ryan Chetiyawardana and one of the first lessons was called The Lemonade Test. In that lesson they made the point that making a lemonade is probably the best way to get to know your palate. It has all the basic elements of cocktails: the sour, the sweet and the dilution. Once you figure out what kind of lemonade you like, that can give you powerful insight into what kind drinks and cocktails you like, and especially how you can tweak the proportions to better fit to your taste.
The main lesson for me personally, though, was that maybe being obsessed about doing things the “right” way, isn’t a very useful concept when it comes to mixing drinks or cooking. After all, each of us have our unique preferences and tastes and at the end of the day, we just want to make something enjoyable to eat or drink. There is value in getting to know the original recipes and trying them out, but once you know the core of the recipe, it’s okay to tweak it a little to better fit it to your taste. Take for example the Negroni. It’s a three ingredient, equal parts cocktail (gin, vermouth & campari), and it’s great, but you might want it a bit stronger or a bit sweeter or a bit more bitter and the easiest way accomplish that, is to just adjust the proportions of the ingredients. Or you might want to go even further and replace the ingredients with something else; changing the gin to rum for example or the vermouth to sherry. I would encourage trying out those different combinations even if you really like Negroni prepared the original way. At least you’ll get to experience new combinations and tastes and might get new ideas for completely different drinks.
Below you can find my preferred lemonade recipe. Don’t take it as scripture. Rather, try it out to see how close it gets to your own taste and start experimenting with different ratios and ingredients. It’s actually rather an amazing drink, that goes perfectly with a meal or just on its own on a hot day or after a nice workout. You can try it out with different citruses and of course you can make it “hard lemonade” by adding a measure of spirit, like gin or vodka. Don’t bother making it the right way, make it your way.
The Classic Lemonade of Cocktails Adagio
- 1 Lemon squeezed
- 1 Orange squeezed
- 1 oz 3o ml Simple syrup
- Pinch of salt
- 3 oz 90 ml Soda water to top it up
- Add the lemon juice, orange juice, simple syrup and pinch of salt in a pint filled halfway with ice and mix well. Then pour the soda water and mix again. Garnish with lemon wheels (optional).