I grew up in St. Louis, Missouri, where disgustingly humid summers mandated we either skip town or get in a swimming pool. Luckily, we had one in my backyard, where my parents hosted lots of pool parties. Whenever my mom’s friend Betty showed up, she brought an icy pitcher of this effervescent fairy nectar. I later learned her special lemonade was spiked.
The recipe for this drink was adapted from Miss Aimee B’s, a tea room in an 1865 house in historic St. Charles, Missouri. While Miss Aimee B’s virgin version would likely be delicious in the garden with a quiche lorraine, let’s be honest: it's much better with some vodka at a pool party. Here's how to make a pitcher:
Betty's Lemonade (Adapted from Miss Aimee B's)
For a pitcher of 12
4 lemons, 3 cups sugar (seriously), 4 cups milk, a couple liters of seltzer, vodka
Chop the lemons, add sugar, and stir well. Let mixture sit for 30 minutes, outside of the refrigerator. Add milk, stir, and let sit in the refrigerator for two hours. When you're ready to serve, fill a glass with ice and fill it with equal parts of the lemon/milk mixture and seltzer water, leaving some room at the top. Add vodka to taste and give it a stir!
Tips for Lazy and Creative Boozers
• First of all: be brave. Take a lead from Missourians, and do not fear lactose (Try 2% milk from the farmers' market.) or white sugar. It's probably not going to kill you. Lots of picky people love this lemonade.
• I cut off the ends of the lemons, which makes them easier to stand up on the cutting board. Then I cut them into sixths or something like that.
• Layer the lemons and sugar in the pitcher as you go, rather than dumping in all the lemons, then the sugar. You can use a bowl if you don't have a pitcher. (But it's almost summer. Get a pitcher.)
• Get a Sodastream and make your own seltzer. Can't say this enough.
• Finally, and this is important. Really let the lemon/milk mixture sit as instructed. I beg of you. I (of course) rushed this for a Memorial Day barbeque and regretted it, not because it was toxic, but because I had some left over and made one after the lemon mixture had been sitting in the frig overnight. (Yes, on Tuesday morning. Don't judge.) It tasted magically melded and un-sugary. Let it sit, as Miss Aimee B's proprietors, Betty, my mom, and I would all implore, and you too will be enchanted by this strange, wonderful, unlikely combination of ingredients.