I’m a big fan of the neighborhood coffee shop. I think I get it from my dad, who’s such a connoisseur of cafes in the Portland area that my sisters and I will call to give him our location and he rattles off a list of possibilities within a few blocks: one with the best espresso, one with the best cookies, another with the coolest vibe.
He’s not as useful in Chicago (yes, I’ve considered bringing him out here for a week of exploring coffee shops so he can expand his skill set to a new city), but I’m getting to know the best places around here myself. When I have a free afternoon, I love to get a drink (and usually a scone, if we’re being honest) and settle myself into a corner for the long haul. I’d say that most of the posts on this blog were written in coffee shops, as were many an email response, cover letter, and even resume. It’s my happy place for working.
This recipe was inspired by a place I’ve found in my new neighborhood, which is perfect walking distance from our house and makes a mean ginger lemonade. It’s hard to beat a good lemonade, with the balancing act between tart and sweet and a taste that somehow means summer. The ginger kicks it up a notch, adding a subtle spice that brings just the thing you didn’t know you were missing. It’s so good, you guys.
This recipe builds on a ginger simple syrup, which we make by simmering grated ginger with sugar and water. We add a good dose of freshly squeezed lemon juice and finish it with sparkling water, because bubbles make everything more fun. I also threw in a shot of tequila. Your call, but I’d highly recommend it. I’m so not ready for summer to end, so I’ll just keep drinking this and maybe it never will.
- 1 medium hand ginger (about ⅓ c. peeled and grated)
- 1 c. sugar
- 6 lemons (1¼-1½ c. lemon juice)
- 2 c. sparkling water
- Shot of tequila, optional
- Peel and grate the ginger (I always use the edge of a spoon to peel it). Combine the ginger, sugar, and 1 c. water in a small pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool.
- Juice the lemons.
- Strain the ginger syrup into the lemon juice. Add the sparkling water and taste, adding more water or sugar as needed.
- Serve over ice, preferably on a beach somewhere.
- To make the cocktail: add a shot of tequila to a tall, narrow glass filled with ice. Fill the rest of the way with the sparkling lemonade.