I love California so much, but right about now I think I need to be living along the coast, rather than smack-dab in the middle where 100+++°F dry heat is basically the forecast of the day, every day. Stepping outside for more than a few seconds is literally like trying to torture yourself. The only upside is that it gives you the perfect excuse to a) make ice cream (because that's next on the agenda) and b) sip on sparkling strawberry lemonade while hanging out in the pool alllllll weekend.
Obviously, a lot of the poolside-sipping should involve cocktails :) - like ones with lime, strawberries, and limoncello - but then there's those times when you need the non-alcoholic equivalent, like all. day. long from 9am-5pm. In my mind, there's something magical about a cold, fruity, bubbly, tart-but-sweet lemonade cooler when all you feel like doing is NOTHING because it's so dang hot out.
If you've never made homemade lemonade before and you think it sounds too fussy, you definitely have to think again. This version, at least, is super simple and 100% worth the effort. If you can juice lemons and hull strawberries (get your hands on one of these and these), I promise you can make this in 15 minutes or less with basically no effort. Once you have a big bottle of strawberry lemonade mixture sitting in your fridge, you'll thank me. :)
It also gives you the perfect excuse to buy bunches of fresh strawberries and make a few of those cocktails, some berries and cream parfaits, and hey, maybe even a few chocolate-covered strawberries, because they're just so dreamy.
I call this a cooler because it's slightly thicker than your typical lemonade thanks to all the pureed strawberries loaded in there, but it's also super smooth, brightly flavored, and seriously refreshing. The sparkling water (or club soda) gives it a lift and a lightness from all the bubbles, and it's obviously a fact that bubbly drinks are the best, right? My answer is YES. I make mine on the verge of being tart, but sweet enough to balance out while keeping the taste really zingy. It's straight-up good and I've yet to pour myself a glass that I didn't down in a minute.
Clearly, this needs to be on your drink menu for the Fourth of July. Agreed?
Okay good. :)
Sparkling Strawberry Lemonade Cooler
A tart-but-sweet, refreshing summer drink that everyone can enjoy - perfect for hot afternoons and outdoor parties!
- Yield: about 8 cups* 1x
- 8 ½ ounces (1 cup) freshly squeezed and strained lemon juice
- 17 ½ ounces (3 ½ cups) hulled and chopped strawberries**
- 3 ½ ounces (½ cup) to 4 ⅝ ounces (⅔ cup) granulated sugar
- 4 ounces (½ cup) water
- sparkling water/club soda
- lemon wedges, for garnish, optional
- Combine lemon juice and strawberries in a blender and blend until completely smooth. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a medium saucepan. Add 3 ½ ounces (½ cup) sugar and place over medium-low heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, just until sugar dissolves. Taste and, if desired, stir in the remaining 1 ⅛ ounces (about 2 ½ tablespoons) sugar until dissolved. Stir in water and remove from heat.
- Transfer the strawberry lemonade mixture to a large pourable vessel - preferably something with an airtight lid. Chill well.
- To serve, combine approximately equal parts strawberry lemonade mixture with sparkling water in a glass over ice. Stir together and garnish with a lemon wedge if you want to be extra fancy. :)
*Yield is based on using a 1:1 ratio of strawberry lemonade mixture to sparkling water for each serving.
**If you measure your strawberries by weight, there's no need to chop them before putting them in the blender.