Vodka Lemonade… my first-ever alcohol drink on iambaker which also happens to be my summertime drink of choice! Homemade Lemonade with the perfect amount of vodka is the best way to beat the heat this summer! This was inspired by my love of the classic vodka lemonade! (A sweet reader just informed that these are also called Russian Lemonades!)
Homemade Vodka Lemonade
There is something so amazing about a freshly squeezed glass of ice-cold lemonade, especially when it is cocktail hour and you can add a little vodka!
My all-time favorite place to pick up a glass of the real-deal, freshly-squeezed, lemonade is at the Minnesota State Fair. I have wanted to duplicate this recipe for a very long time and I am so glad I finally did. One thing they do at the fair is serve their lemonade over crushed ice. I brought that same concept to this cocktail but added a bit less than they do. I don’t want to nurse a watered-down drink!
The beauty of this cocktail is that I make a full pitcher of the lemonade so I can have more than one. All you need to do is add the vodka. 🙂
There are only THREE ingredients in this simple homemade lemonade recipe.
- Freshly squeezed lemon juice
- Granulated sugar
- Ice water
It seems like it should be much more complicated to make the most amazing summer drink of all time. But it’s not!
How to Make The Best Vodka Lemonade
You just might be the most popular person at the party with this homemade vodka lemonade. But to keep your vodka lemonade game strong, here are some tips that will make sure your drinks are perfect, every time.
Use Fresh Lemons
Lemon juice from a bottle is just not the same and it definitely doesn’t have that fresh flavor you get from real lemons. Plus, who knows what unpronounceable ingredients they put in the bottle to keep it on the shelf so long. To make sure you select the best of the best, make sure to look for lemons that are heavy for their size. Typically smaller lemons with bright yellow skin and no wrinkling have the best flavor. Avoid the lemons that are rock hard as well as the lemons that are way too soft.
Roll the Lemons
To get the most out of your lemons, roll them on a cutting board while adding pressure with your hands. This will help free the juices before you slice the lemon. (You could also pop it in the microwave for 10-15 seconds!)
Strain the Lemons
Start by grabbing a medium bowl and placing a mesh strainer over the top. With your lemons cut in half, squeeze out as much juice as possible. I like to use a lemon juicer, but if you don’t have one you can use a pair of cooking tongs. Place the lemon inside the handle of the tongs and squeeze. As the liquid drains out of the lemon, the strainer will catch any unsuspecting lemon seeds as well as large chunks of lemon pulp. Don’t worry, if you like pulp in your lemonade, you can use the mesh strainer to fish out the seeds and then put the pulp back in.
Go Halvsies on the Sugar
This recipe calls for 1 cup of sugar and that was the perfect amount, for our tastes. You might like yours just a little less sugary. Add half of the sugar at first, let it dissolve in the lemon juice, and then adjust to your own taste buds. Just know that it will be tart at this stage because haven’t added the water.
Use Good Quality Vodka
I love the Prairie Organic Vodka (which is actually inexpensive!), which has hints of melon and pear in the aroma and a smooth finish. Very smooth. But you could opt to use your favorite. I would steer away from “well” vodka (a term from my bartending days) and go with the best you can afford. (A well drink or rail drink is an alcoholic beverage served using the lower-cost liquors stored within easy reach of the bartender in the counter “speed rail” or well. Usually the cheapest and lowest quality.)
Be Mindful of the Ice
That may sound silly, but it is actually important with making cocktails! Have you ever made fresh lemonade and then added it to a pitcher of ice and 1/2 hour later it is diluted and blah? If you add 4 cups of ice you could potentially have up to 4 cups of water diluting your lemonade, which can definitely affect the flavor.
Although I added ice to the pitcher in the images, that is not how I typically serve it. When making lemonade specifically to serve with cocktails, I definitely do not add ice to the pitcher as you will have ice in the glass.
How to Make Vodka Lemonade
- Prepare lemonade.
- Add ice to a tall glass.
- Add in 1.5 ounces of vodka. (I use a shot glass to measure.)
- Stir the drink well.
- Garnish with a lemon slice.
Can you use store-bought lemonade?
Sure! Just taste test and see if you need more/less vodka. You could also use “pink” lemonade if you are going the store-bought route. Add a lemon and a strawberry for garnish.
Looking for More Lemon Inspired Recipes?
When the temperatures start to rise, nothing beats a refreshing glass of ice-cold Vodka Lemonade!
- 4 fresh lemons, about 1 cup juiced
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 4 cups ice water
- ice, crushed (as desired)
- 12 ounces vodka, or 1.5 ounces per drink
- lemon slices, for garnish
Roll lemons on cutting board and then cut in half.
In a large bowl, squeeze juice from lemons. Make sure to strain out any seeds or excessive pulp.
Add sugar and water. Whisk well to combine, making sure the sugar has dissolved. Pour into a pitcher and add fresh lemon slices.
In a highball glass, add ice. Pour vodka over the ice.
Pour lemonade over top and stir well. Garnish with a fresh lemon slice. Serve immediately.
Be Mindful of the Ice
That may sound silly, but it is actually important. Have you ever made fresh lemonade and then added it to a pitcher of ice and 1/2 hour later it is diluted and blah? If you add 4 cups of ice you could potentially have up to 4 cups of water diluting your lemonade, which can definitely affect the flavor.
Although I added ice to the pitcher in the images, that is not how I typically serve it. I usually make the lemonade and then serve it with cups of ice OR cups and an ice bucket. People usually drink the lemonade before all of their ice melts so they can enjoy the pure flavor.