We’re going to come at this one a little backward, and you’re going to love us for it.

Straight up fresh lemonade is, of course, delicious. It’s the classic summer refreshment. And we’re going to walk you through making a truly wonderful basic lemonade, as well as some terrific infused lemonades that doctor up that basic batch with some fantastic complementary flavors.

But first, let’s move way beyond basic. Because as good as a straight up lemonade is, we can’t help but think it gets even better when you add a little splash of something adults-only. Now we’re talking fun in the sun.

The important thing to consider when adding alcohol to lemonade is that you are playing with a highly acidic ingredient. This means you’ll want to select liquors that play nicely with that. They should either be relatively neutral to let the lemon juice shine, or they should be complementary. Tequila and mescal, for example, love citrus.

And don’t limit yourself to the hard stuff. Rose and sweet white wines, such as riesling, are also nice. So are hard cider and India pale ale. Whatever you end up using, plan for 1 to 2 ounces of liquor per serving of lemonade.

For the infused lemonades below we suggest the following pairings—for herbal, vodka; for cucumber, gin; for mixed melon, light rum; for mango-chili, tequila; and for mixed berry, vodka.

And by the way, while bottled lemon juice is fine for most cooking, do yourself a flavor favor and invest the few minutes it will take to squeeze lemons for these recipes. Freshly squeezed juice shines and makes a real difference in drinks such as these.

Easy Infused Lemonades

Start to finish: 10 minutes, plus chilling
Makes 8 servings

The classic sweet-and-sharp flavor of fresh lemonade is easily complemented by a host of other ingredients. To prepare these infused lemonades, simply pick a flavor combination below, and then combine it with the base recipe at the bottom. For best flavor, be sure to let the mixture chill for at least 2 hours. And to keep it from getting watery, don’t ice it in the pitcher.

For Herbal:

1/4 cup fresh lemon verbena leaves
1 tablespoon fresh lemon thyme
2 tablespoons fresh mint leaves

For Cucumber:

1 medium cucumber, peeled and seeded
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint

For Mixed Melon:

1 cup cut watermelon
1 cup cut honeydew or cantaloupe melon, or a mix

For Mango-Chili:

1 cup fresh mango chunks
1 to 2 serrano chilies (remove seeds for less heat)

For Mixed Berry:

2 cups fresh berries (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries or a combination)

Base Lemonade:

1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 4 to 6 lemons)
1/2 cup honey
Pinch of salt
Cold water

Choose the flavor you’d like to infuse your lemonade with. Combine those ingredients in a blender, and then add the base lemonade ingredients, the lemon juice, sugar or honey, and salt. Blend until very smooth. Transfer to a 1/2-gallon pitcher, pouring it through a fine mesh strainer. Add enough water to bring the volume to the top of the pitcher. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Stir well and serve over ice.

From The Associated Press

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