vermontucky lemonade Recipe

vermontucky lemonade

This is how I’ve decided to prepare for summer this year: 1. Buy tiny madras shorts and aviator sunglasses for the toddler. Like I could resist. 2. Let fear of bathing suit season convince me to let a friend drag me to my first Pilates class, ever, and not even a beginner class. Ow. I’m pretty sure I should have resisted. 3. Allow myself the purchase of a single purpose, space-hogging (well, not for a normal sized kitchen but definitely for mine) appliance I have coveted for more than a decade, just because it will take us from lemons to lemonade in under 5 minutes. I’m so glad I didn’t resist.

two pound bag
many lemons

Logically, to celebrate the fact that I finally accepted that the joy an electric citrus juicer would bring me* would outmatch the inconvenience of storing it, the recipe that I’d share today would be for lemonade. But the toddler is at his grandparents for the night and you know that means: We took the bourbon down from the top shelf.

sixteen halves

Amusingly enough, our current favorite cocktail sprang out of our quest to find a perfect version our previous favorite cocktail, the Manhattan. We learned last December that one of our favorite neighborhood restaurants, Back Forty, made an excellent one, and so we went back for another. And another. And one night — really, we have only ourselves to blame — they ran out of sweet vermouth and we were forced to order something else. Seeing as the restaurant creates the most ungodly delicious fried-to-order doughnuts, does things with cheese curds and ramps I can only daydream about and makes a damn fine burger, we decided to trust their instincts and ordered their signature cocktail. And even though it was the dead of winter, even though we had our coats and hats and gloves piled on our laps and our feet stuffed in snow-crusted boots under the bar, this lemonade-on-ice cocktail instantly transported us to a summery kind of place. And we’ve stayed there since.

doing its thinglemon empties
maple syrup
chunky ice cubes

* Amusingly, in my attempts over the last 10 years to convince myself that no space-efficient kitchen needs such a silly machine, I’ve amassed a cluttered drawer of citrus hopefuls. There have been two reamers, one metal and one wooden, a lever-handled old-fashioned looking thing that turned out to be pretty but absolutely useless, a Kitchen Aid attachment that sprayed my clothes and left juice running from wrist to elbow, but less so in the measuring cup and one of these, which is actually pretty awesome but painful if you’re going for a pitcher of lemonade. In the end, I bought not one but two electric citrus juicers. The first one is the one I’d recommend anyone else buy — it’s inexpensive and has a ton of raving reviews on Amazon (this is an updated link). I only ended up returning it because I really wanted one like my grandmother used to have, with a spout that I could place a glass underneath. I’m quite happy with the one I ended up with but should warn that it doesn’t strain the pulp especially well. For that, you should set a small strainer over your glass as before you start squeezin’.

One year ago: Braided Lemon Bread
Two years ago: Broccoli Slaw and Almond Raspberry Layer Cake
Three years ago: Cherry Cornmeal Upside Down Cake
Four years ago: Baked Eggs with Spinach and Mushrooms + Chive Biscuits + Bloody Marys

Vermontucky Lemonades

Of course, this isn’t the restaurant’s recipe, or their terrible name for it. They humbly call it “The Back Forty”, but from the first night we had it I’ve been calling it the Vemontucky Lemonade in honor of its maple syrup and bourbon and uh, clearly, I think I’m pretty clever. (No need to play along at home). I also have far too much fun creating things from memory than to limit myself to pesky official recipes that I’ve pestered from bartenders. Nevertheless, this is a glass of something dreamy. The bourbon and maple syrup give it a depth of flavor a lot of warm weather drinks lack, and the lemonade makes you wish you were out on a patio somewhere, watching a summer storm roll in. Fortunately, there’s no need to wait for summer to start making a habit of this drink.

1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (with an efficient squeezer, you should get this plus up to 1/3 cup extra from 2 pounds of 8 lemons)
2 1/2 cups cold water, plus additional if needed
1/4 to 1/2 cup maple syrup
Lots of ice

Mix lemon juice with 2 1/2 cups water and 1/4 cup maple syrup. Taste for sweetness. If you like your lemonade sweeter, add remaining 1/4 cup maple syrup. If you found the sweetness just right, add an additional 1/4 cup cold water instead. Stir to mix. This will yield 1 quart of maple lemonade.

Fill a glass with ice. We have a fiery debate at my house about whether this drink needs 1 or 1 1/2 shots of bourbon; my husband prefers more, but I like this drink a bit weaker. I’ll let you choose. Pour your desired amount of bourbon over the ice, fill the glass the rest of the way with maple lemonade and let the force of summer be with you.

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253 comments on vermontucky lemonade

  1. Oh I love the sound of the maple syrup and bourbon. That sounds delish! I make a lemonade all summer long with a dash of orange blossom syrup and vodka..or gin….

  2. NancyO.

    Perfect!! Native Kentuckian here and bourbon lover…I generally like my bourbon on the rocks, but can imagine this is as refreshing as lemonade. Cheers.

  3. deb, this sounds marvelous! i would totally make some lemonade ice cubes to use for this drink, just so none of that scrumptious bourbon gets watered down.

    also, that kid of yours is nearly too adorable to handle.

  4. bell

    Can’t wait to make this my new Summer tipple. This will definitely be making an appearance (and a quick disappearance) at my next cocktail party, which I have decided to arrange entirely because of this post – Thanks!

  5. Lenabean

    Yay–Vermont and Pilates–two of my favorite things. I bet this will suit me just fine. I have been loving this blog–thanks for so many great ideas!

  6. Willy

    Looks delicious. Can honey be substituted? I’ve never tried honey in a cold drink before, so that’s why I ask (I’ve also never tried maple syrup in a drink at all, but that’s besides the point). I’d imagine that using honey would allow you to use less water (e.g. use more bourbon) to get the same sort of taste. What do you think?

  7. This looks so delicious, can’t wait to try it! But I have to admit that what really caught my eye were the gorgeous ice cubes. LOL I know it’s pathetic, but I live in Poland right now, and ice cubes are hard to come by! I’m also not sure I’ve ever seen such elegantly square ones, either. Do you have a special ice cube tray? I know I sound like a lunatic, but Europeans just don’t seem to enjoy ice with quite the same enthusiasm as Americans, hence the equivalent of a $4 price tag for 1 liter of ice cubes buried in the deep freeze of my corner shop. Hard to find good ice trays to make them at home, either! Anyway, I love your site and have been lurking around for awhile now (initially brought by your iced coffee recipe, which was HEAVENLY). Can’t believe I’m leaving my first comment about some ice cubes of all things, but hey…life is in the details. :-)

  8. That looks like the perfect summertime drink! And isn’t it nice to have an electric citrus juicer? I treated myself to one, and it’s not something I use often, but it is SO handy now and then. :)

  9. This sounds beyond amazing. I can imagine this same recipe with changes to the alcohol. Maybe it’s because I’m still living it up almost ten days after Cinco de Mayo, but I would do this with tequilla or even some Jamesons. I may have to invest in an electric citrus juicer now!

  10. elyse

    yummm! I’m not a huge maple syrup fan, but I bet this would be fabulous with basil! That’s my favorite. I love your glasses, too–so oldschool. I make mine in mason jars for extra Southern awesomeness.

  11. Wow, I needed this post the other day! I was desperate for a drink that would involve lemonade… and I’m not a drinker. My husband is a huge bourbon fan so I don’t think I’d have a hard time convincing him to try this one with me. Thank you!

  12. I am on the hunt for baby aviators with the strap to hold them on… but more on topic, I have avoided electric juicers, too! I have the old fashioned glass one which works, but every time I watch Barefoot Contessa and see her electric one it makes me jealous. Now your post has done the same thing!

  13. laura grace

    It’s called a Maple Leaf everywhere I’ve seen it, and it’s a variation on the whiskey sour. I think the maple syrup and the bourbon together just do the most wonderful things. You know, I think I’ll have one now!

  14. laura grace

    I forgot to add, I think it’s most delicious shaken hard with crushed ice and a teeeeeeny bit of egg white to make a lovely froth, served in frosted cocktail glasses.

  15. Pam P

    The maple syrup is inspired!! So many cocktails call for simple syrup and while it is simple to make, it does require getting pots & pans out and then finding something to store it in, etc. But this? This is BRILLIANT! have a cocktail and the next morning have pancakes! woohoo!

  16. Deb! I have been looking for this type of glass EVERYWHERE but have no idea what it’s called to even know where to properly look for it in the first place. So, where did you get those glasses from and would you happen to know what the name for it would be, if there’s even a name for it? :)

    I’m excited to try out this recipe! I always wanted to give the old standard lemonade a new spin! Thanks for sharing!

  17. I’ve found that the problem with single use appliances in a small kitchen isn’t as much about storing it as it is about feeling like lugging it out of the back corner of the cabinet it was shoved into!

  18. Karen

    I’m going to add this to the roster! Right after we finish our quart of Mint Juleps. It combines where I’m from (Massachusetts and maple syrup) and where I am (TN/KY border and bourbon)

  19. Love the recipe and appliances like juicers…oh boy, I am the queen of buying things and thinking Ill get “all this use” from them…and in reality, I don’t. whoops! Thanks for the juicer review…I happen to have a supremely expensive juicer which I never use b/c the cleanup is extremely laborious and I just dont have the time or patience for it. But your recipe has me maybe wanting to dust it off!

  20. Emily

    Ha! I agree with Shannon (#15) – I totally stopped scrolling down the page to stare for a few seconds at your ice cubes! My first thought was – Damn, even her ice looks gorgeous! Thanks for sharing your wonderful blog with us, and I too will be ordering some of those trays!

  21. hamletta

    Like Willy, I want to put honey in this. For my throat, of course. But maple syrup is dark like bourbon.

    My pal likes to go to our local craft bartender joint, and I think I should make these for her, since her dad’s from Kentucky. I was a bartender 20 years ago, and I always approached it like cooking, but this emphasis on ingredients is new to me.

    Re: the glasses
    If you live in the Mid-South/Southern Midwest and you have an Old Time Pottery near you, go there. Super-bargains on glassware like Deb’s working glasses, plus they’re based in Tennessee, so you can get Lodge cast iron for a song. If they have it. It’s kind of catch-as-catch can. My local store is kinda funky. YMMV.

  22. I was thinking maybe you had to drink this while also kissing your brother… who owns a maple syrup farm?? No?? Haha, love the name. I am not the biggest bourbon fan, but I would totally try this. Love me some fresh-squeezed lemon juice!!

  23. This has got to be the best way to double-up on summer drinks: fresh lemonade for the littles, Fresh Lemonade for the Bigs. Weekend BBQ, here we come!

  24. This looks so good…I make something similar to this with sweet tea vodka and maple-vanilla simple syrup, but I never even thought to try bourbon. Like a proper southerner I have multiple bottles of bourbon in the house at all times, I do believe I will be making a pitcher of these for brunch tomorrow!

  25. Susan

    I just recently bought the lime squeezer like your manual lemon one and I love it! I bought it because I was making key lime pie (with those tiny little limes) and my reamer was just not doing the job and an electric juicer would be useless for that purpose. Enjoy your cocktai, it looks refreshingl. I’m not a bourbon drinker, but I do like it in my (your) pumpkin cheesecake, bread pudding and pie and also in pecan pie! I even use the maple syrup in them all, too!

  26. JHS

    Those glasses really take me back! When mom brought those out, I knew it was summer at last.

    This drink looks delicious! Can’t wait to try it soon. Thanks, Deb!

  27. Mmmm, bourbon. Since I am four months pregnant I will have to stick to straight lemonade and try to convince myself that I prefer mocktails. Yay.

  28. kateG

    since manhattans are so my go-to drink i am going to totally trust you that this is amazing! I needed a good summer drink. GREAT, now i’m all thirsty ;)

  29. My beloved has been suggesting we dine at Back Forty for the last month. Sad to say, it was you that has now convinced me we must go. We must, I demand it, like tomorrow! After trying Edi and the wolf, you are my go to gal on restaurant recommendations.

    Oh, and your tot gets cuter every stinkin’ day!

  30. Looks like your new juicer made quick work of those lemons. I can’t wait to try this, but I’ll wait for it to get warm again. Chicago can’t seem to make up its mind about what season it is. It was ludicrously hot earlier this week, and now it’s back to cold, drizzly weather.
    Do you have a particular bourbon to recommend? I’m usually more of a gin drinker.

  31. I have the Kitchen Aid attachment and see what you mean about getting juice down your arm. I’ve learned that I have to hold my elbow up in the air while juicing. It works okay, but I really want one where I can drop the entire piece of fruit into the machine.

  32. Erin in AK

    I’ve been making Porch Swings since you introduced them last summer (actually just made them for Mother’s Day!)…but this will be next on my lemonade list.

  33. Jen-

    Oh my goodness I love you!!! Firstly, your son’s pic was killer…as in I died with my hands over my eyes just gasping for cuteness relieving air. I have two sons so it’s my ultimate weakness. But then, yes even after utter cuteness overload, I realized you were introducing not just a cocktail I’ve never had, but an appliance that will allow me easier margaritas!!! Now in Texas a margarita comes in all shapes, sizes, not to mention syrups and colors…ack! But I found my absolute perfection of margarita recipe last night after MANY MANY MANY tries. So I went to bed happy, hubby a bit giddy, my hands quite sore from squeezing, and my garbage full of lime rinds.

    So my thanks for the ultimate in posts and relief of sore hands and twists forks for juicing purposes. :) Please, if you will, give Jacob smoochies from Jen in Texas. I have a Jacob too…first name David…Jacobs are just awesomeness aren’t they? (although mines going to be 15yo in July….sniffsniiff). Hug your sweetie every chance you get, it goes WAY too fast. I’m so shocked. :

  34. Oh. My. Gosh.

    This sounds fantabulous!! As soon as it warms up (or not?) I’m making this. I love lemon and I like bourbon so….

    And I’ve been looking for an electric juicer!! Thanks for making it easy for me to pick one!!


    PS: I love-love-love your big crumb rhubarb cobbler. Oh my.

  35. Cool name for the drink- your right MUCH better than the one the restaurant gave it…
    I never would have thought to add maple syrup what a great idea sounds perfect!!
    Amazing photos (as always)

  36. Hamleys

    Up to now your watermelon lemonade of July 09 was my favourite summer cocktail – but this might change, can’t wait to try the vermontucky when I will have got maple syrup which is less “obvious” in Austria… And just to say: I love your blog as much as I adore Jacob – he is so super-cute and it is amazing how fast he is growing. Thanks, Deb, for all inspiration!

  37. Electric juicer is a must for me in the kitchen. We drink a lot of fresh orange juice around here. I have a Braun which has pulp control—you can adjust how much, if any, pulp you want in your juice (isn’t that great??)— and it is definitely worth the space that it takes up in my small kitchen.

    I think I’m convinced to try bourbon for the first time. This drink is enticing.

  38. Re: the glasses – they should be available at your average mega-mart. I bought mine at the WalMart, but I have also seen them at Target. They’re plenty cheap, too – I think my set of 8 big and 8 little cost something like 10 bucks.

    Re: bourbon recommendations – a good, middle-of-the-road, easily-accessible, inexpensive bourbon would be Makers Mark, but if you want something a little snobbier and don’t live here in Central Ky and have access to small-batch bourbon, my personal favorite would be Knob Creek

    And @ The Food Hound (#38), please don’t perpetuate stereotypes. In Kentucky, we don’t consider subjects like that to be jokeworthy and are rather tired if hearing them.

    But think looks fantastic, and quo be on the table on my next cookout!

  39. Oh my, this sounds soo delicious, I cannot wait to try it! In case you run out of bourbon (I know, as if?!), I have a recipe for sparkling special lemonade (vodka makes it “special”) on my site that would keep your new juicer in service. A few months ago, the trees out here in California were so heavy with lemons that we had more on hand than we knew what to do with–it quickly became my favorite winter drink!

  40. This looks delicious! My partner has been on an old-fashioned quick so now I have something different to make with bourbon (or whisky). It’s a good thing I just picked up a gallon of maple syrup to last us until next spring.

  41. Martha in KS

    I love all things lemon, but would like to hear what price you all have to pay for lemons in your neck of the woods. Here in KC they’re 89 cents each & not very juicy.

    1. deb

      Lemon price — I believe I bought a 2 pound bag of organic ones from Whole Foods for $3.99. There were 8 in the bag and it yielded about 1 1/3 cups of juice.

      Bourbon — I used Eagle Creek, because it was all we had left in the apartment. Amusingly, it was a gift from a friend after Jacob was born! Which means it’s over 19 months old and way too full for its age. But for mixing, I think Maker’s Mark is just fine. I’ve never gotten into Knob Creek. I know people consider this blasphemy. I adore me some Basil Haydens though.

  42. Martha in KS… I just bought a HUGE bag of lemons in China Town (Toronto Ontario) for $2.00. They were 10 for a dollar! In the local grocery store however, they would be the same price as yours….

  43. Finally, I got drink recipe on smitten kitchen. As my expected, this drink recipe always not disappointed. Thank deb:-) . I’ll will try to make it. Today is hot day. Fuhhh.

  44. Karina

    It sounds good but I’ve done master cleanse too many times to drink any lemon juice with maple syrup ever again! =)

  45. Bev Taylor

    Hey Lauren,
    What’s wrong with Canadian Maple Syrup? We’re proud of it Can hardly wait to try this recipe using some. May have to change the name though to Canucky Lemonade!

  46. Linnet

    Thing 2 (Tiberius) is just two and a half weeks old, but I think I’ve found my first post-partum brush (or should that be crush?) with ‘da hard stuff’, which I will consume as soon as it gets warm enough to sit on our porch, watching the two year old run around in the early evening. Stupid weather!! Thanks so much for this recipe, Deb!!

  47. Lisa

    Mmm, smells like summer, even in this rain! If you like the Manhattan at Back Forty, try one at The Redhead on East 13th. Even better, as is the food, if you can believe. Your bébé gets cuter every day. Thank you for the hard work that you put into this blog, Deb. It’s my go-to for everyday recipes. And good writing, of course!

  48. SaraCorinne

    Re: Ice Cubes- both Sur La Table and the Martha Stewart collection at Macy’s have silicone ice trays that make perfect cubes, just in case you’re too antsy to wait for delivery from Amazon :)

  49. Loving the idea of adding bourbon to my lemonade! I make a strange concoction when I make lemonade–I add a dash of cayenne. It all started when my roommate in grad school went on that weird Master cleanse diet where all she drank was lemon juice + maple syrup + cayenne. I used to sneak a drink of it (while eating a cheeseburger of course) and it was delicious. So now, when I get in from a hard day, I squeeze fresh lemon juice, agave nectar, water and a dash of cayenne together. It’s delicious!

  50. Well well well. I see we will have a new favorite use for the maple syrup we made this year. Other than just pouring it straight over vanilla ice cream, which is a fine use for maple syrup, but has the drawback of not being alcoholic.

    I will make this. Guaranteed.

  51. I’ve been reading this blog for a long time but this is the first entry that has prompted me to comment. It’s great how the simple things are almost always the best. Thank you for your wonderful blog and thank you for this recipe, I will definitely be making this.

  52. meg

    I have a KitchenAid attachment, but I don’t know if it’s the same one you have. The KitchenAid itself is very old, and I think the attachment is about the same age. It works wonders, though, and for the most part the juice ends up in the measuring cup. I’ve never had a mess-free juicing experience, though.

  53. Momcat

    Think you could give us a good Manhattan recipe? Or have I missed one? My mom drank Manhattans and I have just gotten into them, but don’t know how to make them at home. Anybody who lives near a PF Chang’s should try their Blood Orange Manhattan. Wow!

  54. Sunny

    OMG – all my favourites in one glass. Would you any lemons or would you be able to taste the difference if you use Meyer lemons – would it taste even better?

  55. Meredith

    This sounds so yummy! My husband and I have been doing yard work all afternoon–I think we need to spend the evening sipping this drink! :)

  56. Heather

    This sounds fantastic – I will have to request from the bartender (husband) of the house. We just bought a giant sack of lemons and were wondering how to use them all – problem solved.

  57. Rachel

    I will be making this sans alcohol since it is 4 more weeks to little ones birthday. But I think mixing the lemon and maple syrup and then adding seltzer still sounds delicious.

  58. Oh so beautiful. Lemons remind me so much of summer and all that that implies. I am hoping to acquire some lemons soon and do some summerish recipes for my blog as well, hopefully it will be a success.

  59. I haven’t had much experience with bourbon, but have been seeing some mixed drinks like this that have piqued my curiosity! Usually I suffer by using my hands for juicing but borrowed a friend’s little non-electric juicer and was amazed by how much easier it was (dur..). Also, I’m glad you couldn’t resist those aviators (precious), and I’ve been torturing myself with Pilates for the last couple months. Still pretty terrible at it, but it’s been getting a less painful, I guess.

    1. deb

      Lauren — This amount would make a pitcher of lemonade (possibly two of drinks if mixed with ice and bourbon) but the directions are for individual drinks. It doesn’t require 20 lemons. You could probably get a cup of juice from 6 to 7.

      Sunny — It will taste better if you prefer Meyer lemons, definitely.

      kristin — You MADE maple syrup? That’s incredible. My mind is a bit blown. I think I might have been in the city too long.

  60. Wow, I definitely need one of these! And then I need to make this drink for Cocktail Friday :) I bet your little boy is absolutely adorable in little madras shorts!

  61. NicM

    As I see it, a small appliance is as useful as you make it so if you’re going to use it a lot (and it seems you will) then it’s worth the space. I can’t wait to try this as soon as it warms up again. We’re in a cold streak so we used maple syrup in a different way today – maple sausage hash.

  62. Grace

    Great recipe, I’m drinking it right now. I used less water and replaced it with some seltzer for some bubbles. I used Makers Mark and it tastes great! I’m so glad I had lemons on hand.

  63. Carol

    I hate that KitchenAid juicer attachment! I just used it to juice up a bunch of lemons for lemon ice cubes–and what a mess! Your drink recipe looks fab.

  64. Monica

    This reminds me so much of a cocktail I had in Park City at the High West Distillery! They make a spiced lemonade (vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves are all in the mulled syrup) and serve it mixed with one of their whiskeys or with vodka. Mmmmmmmmm…. this recipe looks much simpler though :)

  65. Jen

    My first thought: what a gorgeous drink. Second thought: it would be great warm, the makings of a hot toddy. I guess the force of summer hasn’t hit me yet. Cheers!

  66. Lei

    Amazing timing!! I was left with about 5 fifths of different types of Bourbon after a Derby party last weekend. Bourbon is the one liquor I have a hard time drinking, but this sounds like something I can handle!

    I’ll be making these to sit on my porch with this weekend!

  67. A chime-in from Louisville, Kentucky here. Other good bourbons without too much bite are Buffalo Trace, Woodford Reserve and Old Forester. Wild Turkey (made 5 miles from where I grew up) is a favorite but a little rougher than the others. For a crowd, another good summer drink is bourbon, lemonade and amaretto, frozen to a slush. Yummm! Never tried bourbon and lemonade with maple syrup but it sounds lovely, as does pretty much everything on this site!

  68. duffy

    I’m cracking up here because maple syrup and lemon juice are the two main ingredients in that “Lemonade Diet,” the Master Cleanse that all those stars go on to lose weight. You know – Beyonce did it when she lost all that weight for Dream Girls, and Gwynneth Paltrow has talked about it on her blog. Anyway, the recipe for that drink is lemon juice, maple syrup, filtered water, and cayenne pepper. It’s like you realized that a good thing could become a REALLY GOOD THING with the addition of bourbon! Well done, Deb!!!

  69. Marcia

    Have been contemplating a juicer and went to check out the one on Amazon..which get this being offered along with a jug of maple creepy is that? do they read the blog and adjust? My privacy senses are tingling!

  70. How ironic that you just posted this recipe! I literally just bought a juicer this weekend.. and randomly too! I have never really had the desire for one, but while at Bed Bath & Beyond, they had the electric Cuisinart ones on sale for $14.99, so I felt that the purchase was needed! Now I have a recipe I must try!

  71. SafroniaBs

    Hooray! As a bourbon drinker, I feel like this will solve my “what do I drink in the summer when mint juleps are too much of a pain in the ass?” problem (Manhattans always feel like a shoulder-season drink to me, and neat is strictly for cold weather…)!
    But I am a little freaked out about your Kitchen Aid attachment comment, as I was thinking this would be our attachment’s inaugural run…. can you elaborate at all on its design flaws? It was a wedding present, but I have no qualms about marching back to the store and trading it in for a straight-up juicer if I am about to get a Lemon Juice Bath and no cocktail by the end of it…

    1. deb

      SafoniaBs — It’s a terrible, terrible attachment. The problem is that it is vertical instead of horizontal, so, sure, a lot of the juice runs into whatever receptacle you have below but a lot also likes to run down your arm, or spray out (there’s nothing keeping it from spraying out), etc. Also, and I say this as someone who has in the past declared Kitchen Aid attachments to be the most brilliant thing ever, you really have to consider how you use your KA. Since I have no counter space, I only take my down when I need it. It hardly seems worth taking down just to make some lemon juice (unless it would go into a cake you were making with the KA)…

      Marcia — I saw that too, before I’d even hit publish on this post! “Frequently bought together…” I was convinced I’d lost my mind or at least had been sipping too many Vemontuckies. It took me a while (like, a really pathetically long while) to realize they were thinking orange juice + maple syrup, i.e. breakfast stuff.

  72. Jamie

    I also discovered my favorite cocktail at The Back Forty, but it’s the Loisaida Sling. If you’ve got a thing for spicy cocktails (or if you’ve never tried one) you must go order it, the MINUTE you get yourself a babysitter (because those things pack a punch).

  73. This sounds divine. I’m a big cocktails fan. Yesterday I came up with a new version of an Aviation…

    As for juicers, I have the old-fashioned 1930s-with-a-handle version, which works like a dream. (I have a small kitchen, too…the Kitchen Aid mixer lives under the table, and my fancy baking pans in the cellar, but that juicer sees a lot of counter time.)

    We’ll certainly try this one, as all the ingredients are ALWAYS on hand here! Thanks for posting it. =^..^=

  74. This is genius! Definitely picking up a bag of lemons on my way home today! Bummed to hear about the juicer attachment for the KA, though- I was just about to take the plunge and order one. Maybe not! I’ll have to find something… I’m pretty sure I gave myself carpal tunnel squeezing lemons by hand all last summer. So worth it though!

  75. #135- looks like this makes a batch of lemonade, for several drinks and then you make up the actual drinks individually (pour in shot of bourbon, ice, add lemonade mix) which would allow people to add a bit more or a bit less bourbon to taste. ;) Just have the pitcher of lemonade/syrup mixture made up and voila!

  76. Dave J.

    I make this as a “Maple Leaf,” the recipe for which goes like this: 2 oz bourbon + 1 oz maple syrup + juice from 1/2 lemon, put into a shaker w/ ice, shaken, poured into a highball with ice. Super, crazy good. But dangerously smooth, to the point that you can drink several without realizing that you’re drinking alcohol.

  77. Awesome, a new method of using some of the MANY bottles of bourbon we received as wedding gifts! (Bulleit, Four Roses, & Pritchard’s Tennessee Whiskey) The native Kentuckian in me likes your cocktail name too. :D

  78. your vermontucky name is WAY better than theirs! as soon as i saw your title i was intrigued. congratulations on your new juicer – i think you made a good decision. i try to not buy extraneous stuff either, but if you have wanted it that long, it is worth buying, I say!

  79. M

    Are we looking for a strong or a slight maple flavor here? In other words, do I bust out the Grade C maple syrup, or use some Grade A? I suppose it’s a matter of taste, but I’m curious what you used and how maple-y it was.

  80. I have made this two nights in a row — it’s officially our new summer cocktail up here in Vermont. I think I might need to grow a lemon tree now.

    Do you know how AMAZING this would be with Meyer lemons???!!!

    Thanks for the post!

  81. We also love Manhattans, but recently transitioned to the bourbon version of Negronis for slightly lighter drink. This seems like the perfect bourbon cocktail to move to next, just in time for warm weather and grilling season. Thanks for sharing.

  82. Michelle

    Wow, I can’t wait to make this – I have what might be a ridiculous question, do you have a special ice cube tray to make such perfect clear cubes?

  83. AmberDawn

    Yum! I made this last night and it’s fantastic… but I have a confession to make, I didn’t make the lemonade. I know, supremely lazy of me, I used Newman’s Own, and while I think homemade would’ve been nicer, it was very, very tasty.

  84. Jean Marie

    Just stopped in to add my congrats on the Saveur award! Well deserved, Deb. I was in your neck of the woods last weekend and it was great – Back Forty, Rue B, Veselka (where my husband finally bought me the cookbook because he’s obsessed with the meatballs), Momofuku Milk Bar. All so good.

  85. Elissa

    You’re definitely the right choice for Saveur’s Best Cooking Blog – I use your ideas for inspiration all the time!

  86. Nich

    I CANNOT wait to try these tomorrow night before dinner! Manhattans are our drink of choice, but I am open to a light, summery version. And btw, since I’ve stumbled upon your blog, I have loved absolutely EVERYTHING I’ve attempted, as has my guy. Thank you!!!!!

  87. Sounds heavenly! It’s very similar to a cocktail dear to my cold Canadian heart, the Maple Leaf, which is definitely less of a lemonade and more of bourbon with lemon juice and maple syrup in it, shaken and poured over ice (the ratio I like is 2-3/4-3/4).

    However, as delicious as the Maple Leaf is, it’s a pretty low-volume cocktail (only 3.5oz), so I’ll definitely try this, which sounds like a delicious, longer-lasting variation.

  88. Oh holy crap, that picture is insane! I love aviators for babies! Also, there’s nothing quite so summary and refined as a sweating glass of ice-cold fresh-squeezed lemonade on a hot day (this observation is based mainly on books/movies/etc., not actual experience).

  89. oh boy, I’m really excited to try this!! I just got back from Kentucky 3 weeks ago, and after that trip I’ve finally started to like bourbon!
    Also, how convenient that I have a bag of lemons I need to use up :) Thank you!

  90. Seth

    To paraphrase Julia: “Save the lemon cups!” Stack the hollowed lemon halves with a flattened paper muffin tin liner, wrap in plastic, then in foil, and freeze. You’ll have a summer’s worth of lemon cups in which to serve lemon sorbet, preserves, and whatnot.

  91. Megan

    For someone who is just learning to like bourbon (this may/may not have something to do with a bottle of Maker’s Mark being passed around on a party bus a few years back), this cocktail was perfect! I used less than one shot for my drink (my husband who did not partake in the bourbon-chugging used 1.5 shots) and it was absolutely delicious and will most likely become our signature summer cocktail. The prettiness of this drink is also quite appealing. Thank you for sharing Deb!!!

  92. I’ve been making this drink for at least a couple years, but because of the maple syrup I’ve been calling it a maple leaf sour. Looks delicious, and if it wasn’t just 9:30am I might have to pour myself one.

  93. Wow, brilliant! I’m going to have to share this one with friends up here in Vermont this summer — we already put maple syrup in coffee, yogurt, bread & baked goods, but the thought of putting it in mixed drinks hadn’t occurred to me!

  94. Megan

    my wonderful coworker brought me back some Vermont Maple syrup.. I think I might need to try this recipe and crack open that syrup!

  95. soniacastle

    I made this with charged water, and it was amazing. It reminded me a lot of a Scotch stoned sour, a drink I used to enjoy years ago in the Chicago area but have never come across anywhere else.

  96. This sounds like such a great drink! We’re gearing up for some warm weather this weekend, and a pitcher of this would be perfect to sit on the deck with =)

  97. alison

    lemonade made with maple syrup…where has this idea been all my life? so much tastier than regular sugar and so much faster than making simple syrup.

  98. Adrianne

    I’m so glad I finally read the entire post. I skipped over it assuming that I couldn’t have it because I’ve departed from any refined sugar. Boy am I glad to see a recipe that uses my favorites – bourbon and lemonade, and has no refined sugar. Can’t wait to try it with some Woodford Reserve. Mmmm….

  99. We have to try this! Sounds like a perfect way to make a bourbon based drink into a summery cocktail. We’re liking the New England touch too. It obviously needs a shot and a half of booze though!

  100. Matthew

    This would have been wonderful two weeks ago to use up leftover mint juleps. I can’t help but think mint would go great with this. Though maybe not with the maple syrup? I’ll need to experiment. Alas, I’m out of bourbon now.

  101. clearly, a delicious recipe as the preceding 188 comments attest! i made it this past weekend, with a couple slight twists–instead of maple syrup (forgot to buy it when i got the lemons. :( ) i made a simple syrup using equal parts raw sugar and water. this was excellent, since it added some of the depth that maple syrup has, while also sweetening. oh, and since i had all those lemons anyway, i also zested a bunch and threw some zest in too…not sure how much flavor it added, but definitely some texture. great recipe..

  102. carol

    This was a good Memorial day cocktail! My mom used to drink bourbon and when I took a sip I was flooded with memories!

  103. Chuck

    Made this for a BBQ gathering last night, and it was a hit. Everyone loved it. Only danger is how easy it goes down. It would be easy to drink to much of it. And I’m sure this needn’t be mentioned here, but use good bourbon. We used Knob Creek.

  104. Kim in MD

    The drink looks so refreshing! I have those glasses and love them!

    Jacob has gotten so big, Deb! He is as adorable as ever! :-)

  105. Bekah from KY

    Sounds great! Has two components from two of my favorite places! Looks like we’ll be fixing these this weekend!

  106. Rachel

    My family makes a similar drink for consumption only on Christmas day. It’s called the 4-2-1; 4 parts bourbon, 2 parts lemon juice, 1 part maple syrup. Pure deliciousness.

  107. Beth

    We made a massive jug-sized version of this for a Memorial Day party and it was a hit! It was the first to go, before the white wine, red wine, beers, etc… Success! Thanks!!

  108. Anna

    I copied you on this juicer and I love it! Thanks a lot:) I have made lemonade on several occasions but not with bourbon. It’s on my list .. now that I have the juicer. I have a similar story about squeezing limes .. all 25 of them with a wooden juice thing for a Martha Stewart margarita recipe. This was 5 years ago but I still remember the pain.

  109. Michael H

    Have you ever had meyer lemons? We have a tree in our backyard. I have no clue where one would get them at the store, but if you can get your hands on some, they are duly worth the trouble. They’re a little sweeter, since they’re a cross between lemons and oranges, I think, although, they are still distinctly lemon-ish, rather than orange-ish. Great for making lemonade or lemon tarts.

  110. Stephanie

    Four thumbs up from two Kentuckians. Very good and refreshing and made with ingredients that I always have on hand in our little kitchen. I also went the very tart and very bourbon-ey route, including 1.5 shots of bourbon. Next time, I think I’ll increase it to 2 shots (or 4 tbsp). Loved it!

  111. Sarah (Oakland)

    Sipping one right now, with only a minor change for our household’s preference — club soda in place of water for just a bare hint of fizz. And it is quite fine indeed. Sweet, sweet whiskey but much more summery than pulling out the homemade sour mix.

  112. Susan

    Mmmm..this is quite good. Enjoyed it over the 4th at our neighborhood BBQ. Everyone was impressed! Fresh fruit and liquor reminds me, isn’t it time we started concocting our Rumtopf for the winter holidays?

  113. Andrea

    Coming to this late, but my husband and I made a version of this drink all summer long. We used one part fresh lemon juice, one part simple syrup, one shot bourbon, muddled mint, added ice, then topped with some club soda. Sort of a Mule, Julep, Hard Lemonade kind of thing. Absolutely yummy!

  114. Read it…mixed it…LOVE IT!! I like my lemonade extra tart, so for my wife I dressed it up with dashes of Cointreau AND Galliano, along with a sugared rim. It’s a winner!

  115. Leah

    What is your favorite bourbon? I’ve always been a diet coke and whiskey girl, but recently gave up artificial sweeteners and Jameson. I’ve been trying new whiskeys (ies?), but am thinking bourbon might be the way to go. I’m sorry if you have mentioned this before and I tried to Google a bit, but I’ve seen Knob Creek and at least one other pictured here. Thanks!

    1. deb

      Leah — Ha! I use Knob Creek because we have it around but it’s my least favorite for straight drinking (these are fighting words, I know, but we’ve all got our own tastes!) so I used it to mix. My favorite for on-the-rocks type applications (I’d never mix it) is Basil Haydens. I like Blantons as well.

  116. Oh my gosh, this is delicious. It might be going down scarily easily. I used Knob Creek with a splash of Jim Beam, and it’s amazing. Perfect for a Memorial Day BBQ after the world’s slowest shift at work.

  117. Rachel H.

    This is my new absolute favorite summer drink.

    This may sound odd, but this is like a boozy version of the master cleanse (or “lemonade diet”). Basically you drink this, minus the bourbon, plus some cayenne pepper for days and don’t eat anything, and poo your brains out and it leads to a loss on the scale. Go figure. I lasted on it oh, until 2pm on my first day.

    However, it did give me the idea to add a dash of cayenne pepper to this. It’s interesting, because it makes it feel like it’s got a lot more alcohol than it does, just by adding a bit of heat to the back of the throat, whereas it doesn’t really alter the taste.

    Anyhow, love it and love this blog. It’s my favorite.

  118. Ran

    I am from the Pacific Northwest but have family in Kentucky, so I was practically raised on bourbon and lemonade. Now I go to school at a small liberal arts college in Southern Vermont (where we often make our own maple syrup). Thank you! so much for bringing the flavors of my two homes together! I never would have thought to add maple syrup to the mix. It’s wonderful and I have yet to meet a single person who can resist it. This will bring the long cold nights of the frigid Vermont winter a little closer to summer, and a little closer to home.

  119. Daphna

    I made this several times this summer–a killer potluck contribution. I love it even more with a few splashes of pomegranate molasses thrown in to give an extra sour kick.

  120. AManda

    I tried to scroll through others comments to see if my question has already been asked, sorry if it has. Do you think it would keep well if I went ahead and added the whiskey to the lemonade mix and kept the whole thing in a container in the fridge? Or should you really add the whiskey only one glass at a time when the person wants to drink it? I am planning a party and it would be a heck of a lot easier if I could add it all together at once. If so… do you know about how much would be needed for one whole batch of your recipe? Thanks so much! Cant wait to try this!

    1. deb

      AManda — I am sure you can mix it in advance. In general, I like to keep things separate until needed but for a few hours or up to a day, no reason to be so strict.

  121. katieliz

    Made these for Fourth of July. Very good & refreshing! I used grade B maple syrup and Woodford Reserve. For myself, a tiny squirt of agave nectar stirred into my glass sweetened it up further, and perfectly. Thanks!

  122. Carla G

    Wow these are great! When I saw the name I had to try it. I am a native Kentuckian and my fiance is a native Vermonter so we always have bourbon and maple syrup on hand. Thanks for the recipe

  123. Kate


    But ok…I admit I was a little uncertain about how the lemonade itself would taste, pre-booze addition. We’re having a big group over for dinner tomorrow, and we want to serve bourbon lemonade to the adults, and plain ol’ lemonade to the kids. Multi-purpose lemonade, if you will.

    I just made the maple lemonade (no bourbon yet), and it’s definitely tasty.

  124. Alex

    This drink is exactly what I’ve been looking for! Served with your blueberry boy bait recipe, and I’ve got a fun summertime party on my hands. Thanks, Deb!

  125. jen

    MN maple syrup, CA lemons, and KY bourbon for the perfect July 4th cocktail. Also, it can be made by the pitcher-full, so win-win.

  126. F

    The Back Forty is the perfect name for this, back where it comes from. What does one do on the back forty? I love it.

  127. Jane Herriott

    Just FYI, your recommended juicer link took me to an Oster juicer that costs $130! The “Oster 3186 Juice-n-Serve 27-Ounce Automatic Citrus Juicer, White” ( Maybe Oster changed their model numbers?

    Was gifted a quart of Vermont maple syrup for our wedding and now I’m going to make allllll the maple things on your site!

    1. deb

      Wow, that’s so strange because Amazon informs me that I did indeed buy and return it in 2011 and it was $21.96 at the time. Regardless, this is the other inexpensive one that comes highly recommended: The Tri-Best is still going strong. [I am going to update the link to the other inexpensive one now, to save confusion.]

  128. Derek Sheeman

    This stuff is AMAZING on a hot day.
    Looking at the weather report in Austin … I need lemons …. lots of lemons.

  129. Elana Stein

    Hey Deb, the link to the juicer you ended up with doesn’t seem to be working. Would you mind reposting please? Thanks!

  130. ezachos

    Made this. Loved it. One hack: I bought lemonade, had neither the time nor energy nor juicing devices to do it on my own, but it was still great. Used 1/4 c maple syrup, since the lemonade was already sweetened, and went with 1 1/4 -1 1/2 bourbon shots per glass (not my usual, but the sweetness made it possible). My Labor Day cookout rocked because of this!

  131. Christine

    I highly, highly recommend making this and then letting it age for a month or more. It mellows beautifully – jugs of aged whiskey sour have become my go-to gift. So good.

  132. I made this and opted for the slightly less sweet version. It was delicious and seemed to improve with every sip (not the effect of the alcohol…lol). I particularly appreciate explaining how to make it more or less sweet, rather than providing a one measure fits all recipe. Cheers!

    1. deb

      For one drink, we tend to wing it a little. Juice of half a lemon, 2 tablespoons water, a teaspoon of maple syrup, 3T bourbon, shaken with ice.

  133. Jackie

    I have been jonesing for lemonade and just happened to have two leftover lemons so I made a half recipe minus the booze- excellent and scratched the itch. Thank you !!!

  134. Jackie

    So, the story is that I made your Almond Horn Cookies this morning which then, due to leftover egg yolk, called for me to make your Meyer Lemon and Cranberry Scones which then, due to leftover lemon juice, called for me to make your lemonade. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it-hate to waste ingredients! Any may I say-YUM to all!!!!

  135. Moe

    This is heavenly! I’m not much of a bourbon drinker, but this drink has converted me. Hubs, who does love bourbon, loves this one as well. Thanks for the perfect summer cocktail!

  136. Connie

    Link to “the one you ended up with” isn’t working— which one is it? Trying to figure out from the photo but not having any luck. 😉

  137. Late to the party but this is unbelievable with Lyle’s Golden Syrup replacing the maple syrup. Might be just the thing to drink for the coronation… well besides champagne! Cheers to you and the family, Deb.