“When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” So the saying goes. But let’s just say that there are some times when life hands you lemons and all you really want is a cocktail.
Not that you’d need to be down on your luck to enjoy any of these spiked lemony drinks, but they just might help you make the most out of a rough spot (and your home bar supply). Here are nine of our favorites that bring the sweet to the sour.
1. Slushy Strawberry Vodka Lemonade
Frosty, icy, and thick, this blended drink is like an adult version of the sort you’d normally drink out of a ginormous, gulp-inducing cup. Except instead of that sugary, vaguely chemical-tasting flavor, you get the sweetness and succulence of fresh strawberries. Get our Slushy Strawberry Vodka Lemonade recipe.
This one is called a “panaché” for a reason: its sparkling lemonade brings flair and finesse to fuddy duddy lager. Get our Panaché recipe.
3. Sparkling Tarragon Gin Lemonade
Herbalists take note: here’s a cocktail that really lets its earthy aromas shine. Not only does it feature the anise-y notes of muddled tarragon, it also incorporates elderflower liqueur and gin for a full array of botanicals. Get the recipe here.
4. Tequila Beer Lemonade
With the triple threat of beer, tequila, and lemonade all rolled into one, this cocktail sings of summertime hijinks from within the glass. Get the recipe here.
5. Lillet Lemonade Cocktail
Featuring lemon with Lillet and a touch of gin, this cocktail is kind of like what would happen if James Bond’s martini was reimagined for a breezy summertime outdoor party. Get the recipe here.
6. White Wine Lemonade Spritzer
A wine spritzer made with seltzer is fine for a flutter, but one with sparkling lemonade really brings the sunshine and cheer. Get the recipe here.
7. Ouzo Lemonade
Anise-flavored ouzo is one of those ingredients that drinkers either love or hate. But for the lovers, this concoction is as heady and fragrance-forward as you could want it to be. Get the recipe here.
8. Honey Whiskey Lemonade
All too often, the whiskey sour gets mangled and marred with artificial sour mix. It’s done right here, however, with a splash of lemonade and even a few drops of honey for extra emphasis. Get the recipe here.
9. Watermelon Lemonade Cocktail
“Fruity” isn’t always a compliment when describing a cocktail, but this one embraces the term like an accolade. Balancing watermelon juice, lemon, and berry (with a bit of rum for kicks), it emphasizes the sweet without getting saccharine. Get our Watermelon Lemonade Cocktail recipe.
Miki Kawasaki is a New York City–based food writer and graduate of Boston University's program in Gastronomy. Few things excite her more than a well-crafted sandwich or expertly spiced curry. If you ever run into her at a dinner party, make sure to hit her up for a few pieces of oddball culinary trivia.