Dining Chicago

When Life Gives You Lemonade, Drink Up

You know those idyllic roadside lemonade stands run by kids charging a nickel for a glass of lemonade? They suck in comparison to the band of unique ades being poured around town this summer. From boozy versions to kid-friendly quaffs, there's a vibrantly colored lemonade out there for everyone this season. It may cost you a little bit more than pocket change, but it's worth it.


When a Champagne salon starts serving lemonade, you can pretty much assume it's the antithesis of the rickety roadside lemonade stands of yore. And sure enough, RM Champagne Salon's Parisian Lemonade is as posh as the sultry setting. The lustrous beverage practically glows thanks to the strawberry lemonade base, jazzed up with strawberry's BFF, rhubarb bitters. An extra spritz of lemon adds some more tang, and the whole thing takes an adult turn via Grey Goose vodka. This is what moms drink while their kids peddle lemonade on the street.


Parisian Lemonade at RM Champagne Salon
(Parisian Lemonade at RM Champagne Salon)


More adult lemonade can be found at Three Aces, this time abetted by lavender. Tito's Vodka is the tipple of choice for the lush lavender lemonade, an aromatic and floral medley of summery solace in a glass. The lemon and lavender dance together seamlessly, and the subtle addition of vodka (so subtle you could easily drink a few of these and wake up in an alley the next morning) serves to bring it over the top. I particularly like the sprinkling of lavender buds over top a lemon slice as garnish. Sexy.


Lavender Lemonade at Three Aces
(Lavender Lemonade at Three Aces)


One of my favorite recent summer pastimes is the yuzu lemonade at Belly Shack. Served by the carafe, this stuff is potent, sweet, and invigorating, which is pretty much everything you want on a debilitating summer day. The Asian citrus fruit lends an extra fruity aroma to the mix, as well as a sweet orange-y flavor, making it easy to slurp down the entire jug by yourself.


Yuzu lemonade at Belly Shack
(Yuzu lemonade at Belly Shack)


Another Asian-inspired lemonade is the lychee lemonade at Banh Mi & Co., the local mini chain of modern Vietnamese sandwich shops. Somewhat similar to yuzu, lychee is innately sweet and fragrant, imbuing the lemony beverage with its naturally saccharine goodness. Because of this, the shop cuts back on the sugar in the lemonade, resulting in a bolder, more fruit-centric drink that won't clobber you over the head with sugar.


Lychee lemonade at Banh Mi & Co.
(Lychee lemonade at Banh Mi & Co.)


Perhaps the zaniest lemonade I've seen this season (or ever) is the blue lemonade at En Hakkore. This Smurf blue drink also involves the oddest combination of flavors for a lemonade, including apple juice, lemon, soda water, and blue curacao, which adds a fun I-don't-give-a-damn element to the drink. It's decidedly un-boozy and very refreshing, with the look and feel of a tropical beach beverage.


Blue lemonade at En Hakkore
(Blue lemonade at En Hakkore)

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