Wednesday night imbibes is back and this time it’s with my go-to drink: gin & lemonade. I order it 9 out of 10 times I’m at dinner or a bar – ask anyone that knows me and they’ll know that’s my favorite drink. I get the weirdest looks from people and often I have to ask for it twice because they think that I’m joking when I say, “gin and lemonade, please.” Regardless, it is one of the most refreshing drinks. It’s sweet, it’s light, the gin pairs well with the tangy lemonade. It’s my (almost) perfect drink. There is a reason that I started ordering gin and lemonades; I didn’t just pull this combination out of my hat.
A few years ago, my mom, brother, brother’s best friend, and I went out to dinner. It was a pretty nice restaurant, so we all ordered specialty cocktails. My drink of choice? Always the Tom Collins. It’s a classic with the club soda and simple syrup, and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, only to be made better by the maraschino cherry on top. I’m not sure why I like it, but I do. Sometimes I feel like an old man or stuck in the 50s, but I’m pretty much okay with that.
Anyway, we ordered the drinks and mine came out…and it was all wrong. All wrong. I think I got an old fashioned – maybe. It was not lemon juice and gin, that’s for sure and it was served in a martini glass. Even though the restaurant wasn’t busy in the slightest (I think there was one other table in there), I didn’t make a fuss and just sipped on the cocktail dreaming of a Tom Collins, or at the very least gin and lemonade.
So, after that big let down and quite a few more, I just decided it was much easier to order a gin and lemonade – it’s sort of the same principle, but far less complicated to mess up. You don’t know how many times I ended up with a martini glass, or vodka, or some unknown ingredient in an ordered Tom Collins. Gin and lemonade? People can understand that, so I go ahead and stick to it.
While you could definitely just buy some lemonade and mix it with gin, I think this version, featuring a homemade lemonade, trumps all. Since there are only two components to this, make sure you have a great gin and a great lemonade. I experimented with this lemonade until I came up with the perfect balance of tart and sweet. It’s getting quite warm here – hello, spring! – so this is exactly the refreshing drink I need this week.
Gin and Lemonade
For the lemonade:
8-10 lemons, juiced
1 cup sugar
5 cups water
Mint leaves, for garnish
Combine the lemon juice, sugar, and water, and stir until sugar has dissolved. Chill in the fridge for at least 1-2 hours. Garnish with mint leaves.
For the drink:
Fill a Collins glass with ice. Add 1 1/2 oz gin and top with fresh lemonade. Add mint sprigs and a lemon slice for garnish. Serve immediately.