The first time I ever went to Red Robin, I glanced over the menu and stopped on one bewitching little item: Freckled Lemonade. “What in the world is Freckled Lemonade?” I thought to myself. “How in the world can lemonade have freckles? What a weird name for a drink. I’m surprised they ever get anyone crazy enough to order a drink with such a weird name.”
So I didn’t order it. But my husband did.
Fast forward 1/2 hour, when I’m gazing enviously at his enraptured face as he enjoyed bottomless refills on glass after glass of that beautiful, pink-tinged drink served in the glass with the funky zig zag stem. I watched him. And I sipped my water. And I told myself I had made the right decision.
That lasted about 5 seconds. Then I ordered one.
Oh my goodness. I can’t even put into words the thoughts of enraptured bliss that went through my head the first time I tried that strange drink over there in the Robin’s nest. It started out with a tart, citrusty note, and then, wham . . . you got this amazingly decadent punch of sweet strawberry. The mix was intoxicating. I knew I had to recreate this masterpiece at home. I worked at it for a while, and I came up with a pretty good copycat. This recipe makes a more concentrated lemonade syrup. It is meant to be poured over a glass full of ice– that way, your lemonade doesn’t have to wait to come to room temperature, after boiling, and the ice waters it down to just the perfect sweetness. If you want to make this ahead of time, add some extra water, to taste, to take the place of the melted ice (so it isn’t too sweet).
What are we waiting for? Let’s do this!
Sweet Strawberry Lemonade
(product of my own madness– share away and change it up, but please credit back here so no one steals my work 🙂
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
2 lemons, juiced
Strawberry Sauce Ingredients:
1/2 cup strawberry puree
2 tbsp. sugar
Boil water and sugar together for 1 minute. Add lemon juice and remove from heat. Mix strawberry puree and sugar, together, in a bowl until berries give up some of their juice. In juice glasses, layer strawberry sauce and then ice. Pour warm lemon mixture over the ice and strawberries and serve immediately. *Note: This lemonade is concentrated, because it is meant to be poured over ice. If you prefer to make lemonade ahead of time and refrigerate, add extra water, to taste, since you will not have the ice to dilute the sweetness. It is too sweet to drink, without diluting with ice or water.
To start with, let’s make a simple syrup. A simple what???
Have you ever had a lemonade, or a sweet tea, and you got to the bottom and saw a shining, shifting mass of unmixed sugar on the bottom? That’s a problem that is easily avoided by making a simple syrup, first, before you make a sugared drink. Basically, we will boil our sugar and water, together, for about a minute. This helps our sweet couple to stay together and avoid sugar water divorce. 😉 So bring your water and sugar to a boil for 1 minute, and then turn off the heat. Go ahead and add in your lemon juice, now. The juice doesn’t need to boil– so it’s OK if the heat is off after you add it.
While your water is boiling, go ahead and ask the beautiful berries to dance. Well . . . not literally. But let’s get them dressed and ready to go, anyway. Get yourself about 1/2 cup of crushed strawberries (I used a potato masher to get them nice and squashed), and mix in 2 tbsp. sugar. Stir everything up. It won’t look like the sugar has mixed in– it will be kind of sifting to the bottom, even when you stir. But just leave it for a few minutes, and a neat thing happens. The berries start to give up their juice, and the sugar starts to absorb it, and then, after a few minutes, you can stir everything together into a nice, ruby red syrup.
Now, for the fun part– making fun, freckled lemonade! 🙂 Start by putting a generous tablespoon of strawberry puree into the bottom of a small glass. Fill the rest of the glass with ice. Since the lemon syrup is concentrated and still warm, we need a full glass of ice to cool it down and dilute it. If you’re making the lemonade for later, add a little water to cut the sweetness, a little bit, when you aren’t pouring it over ice. Now, fill the glasses with the warm lemon syrup.
Oooohhhhh . . . baby. This is deeeeeeelicous!!!
Garnish the glasses with some strawberries and sprigs of mint. The real freckled club doesn’t do mint, but it’s delish. Plus, it looks really pretty. But of course, you don’t have to do mint . . .
You can go dark, instead, and have it with a lemon twist (that adorable little twirly lemon peel). You can get the knife that cuts citrus curls for about $7, and it’s totally worth it for how cute they are (more on that here). Oh my goodness. Seriously. Look at that. I think I feel some freckles coming on.
You did it. And I’m just so proud of you.
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