My part-time summer jobs were mostly restaurant-related, mostly as kitchen staff. The long hot summer of ’81, I was part of the salad bar team at the Victoria Station restaurant near the Children’s Museum on Boston’s waterfront. One afternoon, the kitchen manager handed me a bottle of lemon juice and asked if I could whip up lemonade for the staff dinner served nightly before we opened for the evening.
I mixed up a stockpot of the standard issue lemonade using the recipe on the bottle. And it was perfectly nice, but dull. My gramma had always added fresh squeezed orange juice to her iced tea, and my gramma was awesome. So I decided to stray off script and helped myself to the bartender’s garnish fruit the walk-in cooler. A few oranges, some lemons and limes…a little slicing, a little squeezing and a summer tradition was born.
It’s been a long time since I darkened the doorway of an industrial kitchen, but I still mix up Summerade for every hot weather celebration. The recipe is super easy to scale up and down. It’s picture perfect when served out of a blue speckled enamel stockpot sitting in a galvanized tub of ice, but it can also be made in pitcher-sized quantity on any hot summer day.
Triple Citrus Summerade
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup bottled lemon juice
3 1/4 cups cold water
2 lemons, 2 limes, 2 oranges
Mix sugar, lemon juice and water together in a large pitcher. Stir until dissolved.
Wash lemons, limes and oranges.
Cut citrus into smallish wedges, sixths or eighths.
Squeeze wedges into lemonade mix.
After all the wedges are squeezed, drop them into the lemonade.
Note: quantity of fruit is subjective. Feel free to increase or decrease. You didn’t hear it here, but you can also sneak in some orange juice instead of using fresh fruit.
Second Note: If you are scaling the recipe up to a stockpot or punch bowl sized quantity, use a juicer or hand reamer on 2/3 of the fruit and put the rinds into your compost pile. Cut the remaining citrus into wedges, squeeze and float.
Third note: If you’ll be keeping your Summerade for a few days, don’t add the citrus wedges. They’re add flavor the day it’s served, but after day one, they get a little bitter.
If you need a little inspiration for great summerade serving pieces, start with the classics–beautiful pitchers and summer perfect graniteware.