Whenever I’m asked for restaurant recommendations in Israel, I share a long list of the best falafel and hummus spots, and places to sample the cutting edge of Tel Aviv’s culinary scene. But there is always one must-try item on the list with no restaurant or café name attached to it: limonana. The refreshing mint-infused lemonade feels as ubiquitous in Israel as ice cream is in the U.S. It’s sipped during lunch, at bars on the beach and grabbed on the go on a hot day. The mint-and-lemon combo instantly cuts the heat from the region’s blistering sun.
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While limonana is served in other Middle Eastern countries, the drink, as the story goes, became popular in Israel because of a fake advertising campaign. Advertising company Fogel Levin placed ads for a minty lemonade on buses in the 1990s to prove how effective bus ads could be. Two weeks later, with people asking for the drink, the team admitted that the whole thing was a hoax. But it caught on, and restaurants started to make the drink regardless.
These days, there are slushie versions, like this one, with chopped-up ice to make them extra refreshing. It’s the best way to beat the heat, promise.
Frozen Mint Lemonade (Limonana)
Recipe from the Tasting Table Test Kitchen
Yield: 6 cups
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes, plus cooling time
Total Time: 15 minutes, plus cooling time
1¾ cups water, divided
1¼ cups fresh mint leaves, divided, plus whole sprigs for garnish
½ cup sugar
1 teaspoon lemon zest
3½ cups ice
1 cup fresh lemon juice
1. In a small saucepan, combine ¾ cup of the water, ¼ cup of the mint leaves, the sugar and lemon zest. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat and cook until the sugar has dissolved, 2 minutes.
2. Let cool completely, then strain into a blender.
3. To the blender, add the remaining ingredients and blend until a smooth slush forms.
4. Divide between glasses, garnish with mint sprigs and serve.