Simply Sweet Complicated Creations

When warm weather hits, my comfort food cravings go all Berenstain, and hibernate.

My taste buds start begging for flavors as bright as the tulips growing out front.

This means fresh herbs, citrus and garden-grown goodies.

I’m as much of a mixologist as I am a pediatrician, but I’m proud of my strawberry basil spiked lemonade.

Here’s what you need:

Two 7.5 ounce boxes of frozen lemon juice or the juice of 15 lemons

2 cups sugar

1 cup water

1 big bunch of basil

Water, sparking water, vodka, or any lemon-flavor spirit

This starts with a basil simple syrup: 2 cups sugar, 1 cup water, 1 big bunch of basil. Combine all three in a pot over high heat, cook until the sugar dissolves. It’s OK if it starts to boil. Stir. Remove from heat and cool. Then strain out the basil. It’s called syrup for a reason. It’s thick and sticky. Squeeze it off the basil to get every last drop.

If you feel like 2 cups of sugar to 1 cup of water is just too sweet, just remember that you’re combining it with PURE lemon juice. If you like a really tart lemonade or if you just want to feel better about yourself try a 1 cup sugar to 1 cup water ratio.

Simple syrup is the easiest way to sweeten a drink. Sugar won’t dissolve in a cold creation.

The first time I made this lemonade, I hand-juiced 15 lemons. I felt like I’d competed in the Mister Bodybuilder lift-off, but just looked as though I ate my competitors.

I’ve also done this with lemon and lime juice.

To make it easier, buy the concentrate in the freezer section. Don’t use the lemonade concentrate. That’s already sweetened. You just want plain juice concentrate. I used two bottles, because the sour juice really packs a punch when paired with the sweet basil syrup.

To make the lemonade:

Pour the cooled, strained simple syrup into a 2-quart pitcher.

Add the 2 thawed bottles of lemon juice concentrate (or the juice of about 15 fresh lemons).


Add in a big handful of quartered strawberries. Frozen berries act as delicious ice cubs!


Then add 4 cups of cold water.

Stir to combine.

If you’re making this for an adult party you could use 2 cups of water and 2 cups of vodka or lemon rum.

You could also make this with the 4 cups of water and then pour yourself a glass and top it off with the vodka or rum.

Sparkling water would work wonderfully here, too.


This year, I think I’m going to complicate my simple syrup. I’m thinking of rosemary simple syrup to make orangeade or even the old stand-by, lemonade. I may also use the rosemary simple syrup for iced tea. Thyme simple syrup could be great for lemonade, too.

C’mon herbs, grow!

Ginger and jalapeños would also make a sassy simple syrup.

I’m thirsty thinking about it! I hope you are, too!

Tip: Invest in a muddler. It’s like a mini potato masher. Usually it’s bumpy or spiked on the bottom. This lets you grind the essential oils out of basil or mint, lime or lemon wedges. You know, the necessities for a tasty drink. I also use mine for making guacamole! And by invest, I mean just buy one. They’re not pricy. You can see part of mine in this picture. It has a purple bottom.



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