September 19, 2014

{Recipe :: Sparkling Vanilla Lemonade}

So I love lemons. Lemonade, lemon drops, lemon bars, lemon cake...if it's lemony, I'm pretty sure I'll love it.

(Except for Lemony Snicket. I've never read the serious, much to my sister in law's chagrin.)

So a month or so ago I had a hankering for some lemonade, and decided to head to Pinterest -- of course-- for some make at home versions! I came across THIS blog, which apparently borrowed a recipe for Sparking Italian Lemonade from Giada De Luarentiis, the original of which can be found HERE.

I made it for a family dinner we had, and was pleasantly surprised at subtle basil flavoring. I think I might have been the only one in the house that liked it, (not lemon lovers...hard to believe!) but I finished it off by drinking glass after glass in the following days. YUM.

Fast-forward through about a month of lemonade-hankering... I'm not a super big fan of some of the pre-mixed versions, but wanted to try something other than the basil, and had a brilliant idea to add vanilla! Off to Pinterest I went, sure that my search would turn up blank, since I had just discovered the best new thing...only to be both sadly disappointed (no patent for me!) and super excited that there were LOTS of recipes out there already with vanilla added in.

I decided to loosely follow THIS recipe that I had found, but thought that adding in the "Sparking" aspect of the first version would equal a winning combination...

It turned out DELICIOUS. Since I'm still the only lemonade loving person in this house, I should have enough to quench my thirst & desire for a sweet/tangy/bubbly drink for about the next week or so. :)

Notes: In both recipes, I didn't have actual lemons on hand (sad, I know) so I used bottled lemon juice. And for the second recipe, I didn't have actual vanilla beans, so I used vanilla extract. I hope to make a more authentic version with fresh ingredients next time, and will hopefully update this post with pictures! ;)

Here's my variation of the two recipes. (Another note: this is easily enough for 2 big pitchers, so if you'd just like to try it out, I would suggest you halve everything listed below.)

::Sparkling Vanilla Lemonade::

Simple Syrup

  • 3 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 Tblspns Vanilla Extract (or fresh vanilla bean)
  • Dash of Salt 
  • Lemon Peel (optional)
2 cups lemon juice (From approximately 8-10 fresh lemons)
2 cups cold water
Carbonated Water


First, make your simple syrup by combining the sugar, 2 cups water, dash of salt, vanilla, and optional lemon peel in a saucepan. Bring to a boil while stirring to ensure that all the sugar is dissolved, & simmer for 5-10 minutes.

Once it's finished simmering (should be well combined, and have a more "syrupy" texture), remove from heat and set aside to cool.

Once cooled, add in your lemon juice and remaining 2 cups of cold water, stir until well combined.

At this point, you've got your "concentrate". When ready to serve, I typically add ice and then a ratio of approximately 1:1 of the vanilla/lemony syrup and the carbonated water. If you typically like your drink more/less sweet/lemony, you can adjust this ratio to your hearts content!

As I mentioned in the "note" above, this recipe is enough for two big pitchers. Because when I'm making it, I make it for my own consumption over the course of a few days, I just leave the concentrate in the pitcher, and keep the carbonated water in it's bottle closed tightly to retain the bubbles. If you're serving at a party/event, I would go ahead and mix in about (8) cups of the carbonated water (if I did my math correctly) for a ready to serve beverage.

If serving for a party, or you just want your own drink to look fancy, I'd add a slice of lemon to the edge of each cup.

Hope you enjoy! I'll be back to update this post with pictures the next time I make more. :)