10 Best Drinks To Mix Lemonade, Ranked

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With the season in full swing, we are busy planning picnic menus filled with seasonal favorites like barbecue, potato salad, and shaved vegetable slaw. And, to pair with our summertime favorites, nothing is better than a classic lemonade recipe. Lemonade is the ideal hot-weather beverage. It is juicy and refreshing, mixing mouthwatering tart acidity with sugary sweetness. Low-calorie lemons are loaded with vitamins and minerals, like vitamin C and fiber, aiding in digestive health, heart health, and weight loss (via Healthline). Adding a little sweetness from sugar with fortifying, hydrating water creates a balanced, thirst-quenching drink. Refined white sugar is most commonly used in making lemonade. Feel free to use your favorite sweetener, including agave, honey, or maple syrup, for a more paleo or keto-friendly option. Making this beverage is only half the fun — mixing drinks with lemonade is just as enjoyable.

While the most effortless enhancement to your lemonade is topping off the beverage with flavored or unflavored seltzer, similar to the original recipe, deeper digging must be done when discovering the best lemonade drinks. Though we think lemonade is best when made with freshly squeezed lemon juice, sugar, and water, there are high-quality options at your local grocery store (including an abundance of Simply lemonade flavors), which can save effort in a time crunch. Delicious on its own, lemonade also makes the perfect mixer for cocktails and mock-tails, with a palate-lifting freshness that melds harmoniously between fresh herbs, fruits, and alcohol. 

10. Green juice

Lemonade is inherently sweet and tangy. Green juice is herbaceous and savory. When combined, you create an earthy, energizing delight. A glass of juice made from a mix of leafy greens and fresh herbs — or green juice —  is an easy way to start your day with a pop of nutrition. The health benefits of green juice, and green smoothies, can not be questioned. Healthline shares that vitamin-packed green drinks aid digestion, reduce inflammation, boost your immune system, and increase stamina throughout the day. However, in its purest form (made without adding fruit or other sweeteners), the juice of leafy green herbs and vegetables is often quite bitter. 

Adding fresh lemonade will give the juice sweetness and zesty acidity, rounding out the flavor profile. The lemony beverage will mellow the sharp, earthy, chlorophyll-filled liquid blend. Lemonade also adds water, helping flush the oxalates found in green juice through the body.  Fresh lemonade and non-pasteurized green juice, without the use of fruit or the addition of other sugars, work best. You'll get all the sweetness necessary from the lemonade without much-added sugar. However, be wary of mixing lemonade with store-bought green juice, as many brands are high in sugar and sodium. For example, Naked Juice Green Machine contains upwards of 53 grams of sugar in one 15.2-ounce bottle, which is more than you find in a can of soda.

9. Heavy cream

Mixing lemon with cream may not be the first thing that comes to mind when considering the best lemonade drink, but it should be. Somewhat like a frozen citrus ice-box cake or the drink form of a creamy lemon posset recipe, lemonade, cream, and a little bit of ice create a dreamy, creamy delight. Though more of a milkshake than a drink, it reminds us of waiting to hear the bells of the ice cream truck coming down the street of our childhood home. With one sip, you will be flush with memories of running to get a creamsicle or lemon chill and devouring the treat so fast you can nearly feel the brain freeze. 

Our perfect whipped lemonade recipe delivers a delightfully dreamy frozen delight by adding ½ cup of freshly squeezed lemon juice, a cup of heavy cream, sweetened condensed milk, and 3 cups of ice to a blender. Whirl it on high speed until smooth, frothy, and rich. If you don't have condensed milk, give coconut milk a try to add a subtle tropical flair to the sweet treat. And, don't forget to top with freshly whipped cream for extra indulgence.

8. Pimm's No. 1

Hop across the pond to sip Britain's iconic drink of summer, the Pimm's No. 1 Cup. The distinct cocktail dates back to 1832, when a London oyster bar owner named James Pimm married warm spices and quinine with a gin-based spirit. Floral and fresh, the proprietary blend is a mélange of botanicals, herbs, caramelized orange, and spices. Pimm's original purpose was to help with the digestion of oysters at the bar. The gin was so delicious it quickly became a London favorite. It was served to Queen Victoria at the palace, sent to British soldiers around the world, and eventually found its way to the lawns and grass courtside at Wimbledon. In 1971, Pimm's became the signature cocktail of the event. 

There are, of course, variations on the original, but we like the classic. The former royal chef to Queen Elizabeth II and Princess Diana, Darren McGrady, shares the original Pimm's Cup cocktail is served throughout the summer at Buckingham Palace, garnished with a fruit salad of oranges and apples, cherries, mint, cucumber, and strawberries. We say if it is good enough for the queen, it is good enough for us. The original Pimm's No. 1 Cup cocktail mixes one part Pimm's with two parts lemonade. In England, the lemonade is fizzy, so if you like the bubbles, add a touch of seltzer.

7. Beer

Adding a squeeze of lemon or lime to brighten the palate is a move made worldwide. Who doesn't love lime in a cerveza? However, generations ago, the British took it a step further with the creation of the shandy. NPR shares that the shandy has been a part of the English culture since the 1800s. On hot summer days, it is served pint-sized in pubs throughout the countryside and cities to lighten the weight of the beer. Initially, the drink's name was a shandygaff, a mix of ginger ale and beer. Lemonade soon became the go-to mixer as the sweet, tangy refresher cut through beer's bitterness. 

As the cocktail often has equal parts alcohol-free lemonade and beer, the drink's overall alcohol level becomes lower when mixed. With a decrease in alcohol, you can sip a shandy throughout the day (mostly) without the alcohol going to your head. The German equivalent of a shandy is a Radler, which means cyclist in English. The Radler was supposedly invented in 1922 when a German innkeeper, Franz Xaver Kugler, put a bike trail near his inn to bring in cycling tourists (via Hopworks). As the story goes, one day, 13,000 thirsty Bavarians arrived at his doorstep parched and thirsty. As he didn't have enough beer to satisfy the demand, Kugler began mixing beer with lemonade. The Radler was born, and cyclists today still hoist low-alcohol, citrusy pilsner steins before biking to the next village without falling off.

6. Strawberry juice

The combination of strawberries and lemonade go hand in hand. Nutritious, reviving, and revitalizing, this combo can deliver 36% of your daily requirement of vitamin C per glass (via Healthy Recipes 101). Diets lacking in vitamin C can put one at risk of developing scurvy, a debilitating disease that, if left untreated, can lead to death (via Healthline.com.) Thankfully, our homemade strawberry lemonade recipe is like sunshine in a glass, sure to end any vitamin C concerns because it is so good that you are likely to down the whole batch on the spot. 

Though the process requires a bit of culinary effort, the result is a sunset-hued drink that tastes of summertime. Make the lemonade by cooking chopped strawberries with sugar, lemon, and water until the fruit has softened, then mash, strain, allow to cool, and enjoy. Though strawberries are our favorite, any berry will work, like raspberries or blackberries, mixing well with a shot or two of vodka for a spiked pink lemonade. You could also use frozen berries instead of fresh ones, creating the same tasty drink; just thaw the fruit first. For an extra special treat on 100-degree F days, try freezing lemonade and adding to limeade and strawberries for the ultimate citrusy sweet snow cone.

5. Watermelon juice

Along with lemonade, fresh watermelon is a requirement for any summer picnic. While most enjoy the juicy, hydrating fruit because it tastes delicious, it is also incredibly beneficial for your health. The Mayo Clinic shares that watermelon has more lycopene than any other fresh fruit or vegetable. Lycopene is an antioxidant that helps prevent cancer and decrease the risk of heart disease. The fruit is also high in vitamins A, B, and C, potassium, and magnesium. And, perhaps the most important, good 'ole H2O. Watermelon in its complete form is over 90% water, which logically makes watermelon juice just as hydrating. 

Adding the juice with freshly squeezed lemonade to create watermelon lemonade increases the resulting drink's health benefits. Lemons are rich in vitamin C, potassium, magnesium, and more (via WebMD.) One of the best benefits of lemons is that they also contain high levels of citric acid, which may prevent the formation of kidney stones and give a zingy freshness to every dish or drink that includes the fruit. 

Making watermelon juice is super easy; toss a few cups of fresh, chopped, seedless watermelon in a blender with a cup of water and whirl away. Once combined, strain through a fine-mesh sieve to remove any solids, and voilá, you are on the way to refreshment. Of course, the drink is entirely delicious as is, but don't be afraid to add a little tequila for a tasty twist on a margarita.

4. Iced tea

Lemon and tea are not only a delicious combination but also a nutritious one. The combo delivers many body-loving benefits like lowering blood pressure, detoxifying, hydrating, and lowering cholesterol (via SF Gate.) The two are so good together — melding savory earthiness with a punch of fruity acidity — that the combination creates a thirst-quenching refresher that is the drink of legends. 

PGA Hall of Famer Arnold Palmer once requested an iced tea lemonade drink at lunch while designing a Palm Springs golf club in the 1960s. A fellow patron overheard, quickly ordering the same thing. The drink clicked, and soon everyone was enjoying the blend and calling it by his name; Arnold Palmer. Sure enough, it is an ideal afternoon refresher, especially after playing a round at your favorite golf course. Initially, the mix probably included iced tea made from black tea, the common tea used at the time. After WWII, black tea became the go-to, as other tea options became unavailable in the post-war years (via What's Cooking America.) The black tea brings herbal, floral, earthy aromas with mouthwatering astringency, tannin, and structure. Mixing iced tea with tart, zingy lemonade will round out the drink, energizing the palate.

Making lemonade iced tea from the mix of tea options available today, like ginger, green, or hibiscus, delivers additional nutritional benefits, with ginger tea aiding digestion, green tea assisting with weight loss, and hibiscus tea helping reduce blood fat levels. Palmer preferred a bit more tea than lemonade in his drink, and you could also add a boozy kick by using tea-flavored vodka instead of iced tea. Deep Eddy Sweet Tea Vodka is a prime combination.

3. Gin

Fragrant, floral, juniper-infused, botanical-filled gin is the ideal counterpart for fresh lemonade. The gin brings earthiness with a fruity, herbaceous character, while the lemonade brings sweetness with a nice punch of zesty acidity. As it happens, the two have long been partners in one of the great classic cocktails, the Tom Collins.

The Gin Guide notes that the drink's popularity grew in the early 1860s, when a waiter named John in Mayfield, New York, mixed the two calling it a John Collins. Haney's Steward And Barkeep's Manual published the recipe in 1869, specifying the use of Old Tom gin. The story goes that the use of Old Tom gin earned the cocktail a new name, the Tom Collins. Today, London Dry Gin is the best gin for a Tom Collins. But, at the time, the slightly sweeter Old Tom Gin was popular as it also can be aged in barrels, giving depth and spiciness to the herbal elixir and making it similar to whiskey.

Whichever you decide to use, just do! Mix a few ounces of gin with fresh lemonade over ice for a lip-smacking, vibrant, thirst-quencher that brings everything you love about summer into your tastebuds. The drink fills your palate with fresh flowers, ripe citrus, aromatic herbs, and lots of sunshine.

2. Vodka

The lemon drop cocktail is a classic cocktail made by shaking vodka, fresh lemon juice, triple sec, and simple syrup until cold and foamy. Often the combo is shaken as a lemon drop shot recipe. Still, we prefer it as an ice-cold martini with premium vodka like Ketel One or Belvedere to sip casually on summer afternoons. The lemon drop cocktail originated in 1970s San Francisco at a swanky single's club called Henry Africa (via Chilled.) Like the cocktail's inspiration, the sugar-coated lemon drop candy, this tart, sweet cocktail was designed with the intent to appeal to the decade's female palate, similar to other popular dessert drinks like the Mudslide or the Grasshopper. 

The combination works so well because the acidity in the citrus tames the alcohol bite of the vodka. The combination of lemonade and vodka works perfectly because it makes the drink less sweet than the original. Lemonade combines water with lemon and sugar, delivering a more balanced flavor when shaken with vodka, especially when poured over ice. Consider using flavored vodka, like elderflower, or energizing mint and cucumber. When added, these components take the drink's base spirit and elevate the overall flavor profile.

1. Whiskey

Whether it be Scotch, bourbon, or rye, combining lemonade with grain or corn-based brown spirits has been a cocktail classic for generations. Similar to how vodka and lemonade pair so well, a whiskey sour cocktail recipe mixes whiskey and lemonade and is ideal because the tangy, citrus-intense lemon cuts the sting of alcohol. Mixing with a brown spirit instead of a clear one introduces the caramel, honey, vanilla, and spice notes of an oak barrel-aged alcohol. Mix fresh lemon juice and sugar with your favorite whiskey to create a traditional whiskey sour. 

The first recorded definition of what's really in a whiskey sour was in 1862 in Jerry Thomas' The Bartender's Guide, but the combination had been around for decades before that. The drink is said to have been a favorite aboard naval ships to quench the thirst of sailors at sea for long periods while preventing scurvy, presumably consumed as far back as the 1600s. 

In the 1980s, lemonade became the staple mixer after an Alabama restauranteur combined Jack Daniels Tennessee Whiskey with lemonade, calling the drink a Lynchburg Lemonade after Jack Daniel's hometown (via Liquor.com). The cocktail may have also originated at the distillery, however, as it continues to be Jack Daniel's signature drink. Though serving the duo over ice is standard, consider making a Bourbon Slush for your next gathering. The Kentucky favorite brings frozen lemonade concentrate together with black tea, bourbon, and ginger ale. It's as if Jim Beam and Arnold Palmer met at the race track to hoist a cocktail or two.