This weekend I had the pleasure of accompanying Kate and her wonderful family, who was visiting Chicago for the weekend, to the Randolph Street Market Festival, a gargantuan crafts fair bearing everything from handmade earrings, to antique furniture, to whimsical paintings and sculptures, to my personal favorite, vintage cookware. I somehow managed to muster the restraint to not purchase a banana shaped paperweight, scallop-edged cake stand, or retro toaster (although I did devote ample mental energy trying to convince myself they would be necessary additions to my life). What I did walk away with something sweeter. After two hours of making our way through the myriad indoor and outdoor stalls in the sweltering summer heat, we were parched. To our delight, there was a Middle Eastern food stand stationed smack dab in the middle of the outdoor lot that beckoned us with a giant frosty pitcher of lemonade teeming with bright green mint leaves and thick yellow lemon slices. With just one sip, I proclaimed this lemonade to be one of the best I’d ever had. It had just the right balance of sweetness and tartness, and the mint added a coolness that refreshed me from the inside out. It was the perfect way to end a wonderful summer afternoon with the Adkins family.

I attempted to recreate this drink to share with friends at a potluck yesterday evening. It was simple to put together and served as a great accompaniment to cool down the delicious spice-packed food that my friends concocted. I have a feeling that this drink will be making its way into my glasses quite often this summer, and even when the summer fades and the cold sets in, I’m making a mental note to make a batch of this lemonade to refresh even the wintriest of days with a summer state of mind.

Mint Lemonade
1/2 cup sugar
3 1/2 cups water
7 lemons
1 cup mint leaves

To make simple syrup: In small saucepot, boil together 1/2 cup sugar and 1/2 cup water until sugar is dissolved (microwave method: microwave 1/2 cup sugar and 1/2 cup water for 2 minutes). Let it cool to room temperature. The simple syrup can also be made ahead and stored in the fridge.

Juice 6 lemons into a large pitcher or container, straining out the pulp and seeds. This should make a little more than 1/2 cup of lemon juice. Add 3 cups of cold water and mint leaves. Cut the remaining lemon into thin slices and add to the mixture. Add about 2 cups of ice cubes. Stir lemonade, cover, and store in fridge for at least 1 hour before serving. Serve with extra ice cubes.

To make Mint Arnold Palmers: Fill a glass half-full with mint lemonade and fill the remaining half with iced black tea.

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