Whenever Aunt L. held family parties while I was growing up, I remember slinking furtively to her mixed-drink table, palming a few lemon wedges, hiding behind a nearby door, and sucking the life out of them. I loved lemons. I loved them more than oranges and apples and bananas and every other kid-appropriate fruit moms tend to shove at their elementary schoolers. And I didn't know it was weird until about third grade, when Aunt L. caught me, raised her eyebrow quizzically, and said, "Kristen, is that a lemon? You know, we have cake."
Twenty (OK, 25) years later, the lemon fixation has morphed into a slight obsession with lemon-flavored food: lemon bars, lemon meringue pie, lemon chicken, and of course, lemonade. I've never been a big soda drinker, but I'll quaff lemonade until my esophagus puckers. A few years ago, I began making my own, and have since been unable to return to powdered mixes. Apologies, Country Time.
Given these preferences, plus a longstanding affection for cherries, I thought I'd try them both together. So I created a basic simple syrup-style lemonade, and taking a cue from Martha Stewart, dropped in a half-pound of halved, pitted supermarket cherries. A few hours of refrigerator chilling later, I had the most refreshing summertime drink in five boroughs. Aces.
Tart with a subtle cherry-flavored undertone, this Cherry Lemonade contains no preservatives, has 27% less sugar than soda, and would probably be divine mixed with vodka. Plus, it sates my lemon craving without having to suck on the fruit itself. And being an adult, it's probably better that way.
- 1 1/4 cups water
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 6 large lemons)
- 6 cups cold water
- 1/2 pound cherries, pitted and halved
Bring 1 1/4 cups water to a boil in a small pan. Once boiling, turn off heat, and stir in sugar until dissolved.
Combine sugar mixture, lemon juice, and 6 cups cold water in a pitcher. Add cherries and let sit in refrigerator for a few hours, until chilled.
Stir and serve, scooping a few cherries into your drink after you pour.