lemon and lime mintade

Last week was a Lot. I ventured into it buzzing with adorably ambitious New Year’s intentions to, like, get things done, and spent most of it glued to a screen, furious and frustrated. As I mentioned in this morning’s newsletter, I’ve often felt that January is a blur and this one is particularly so. Armed insurrections are not a subject I know how to discuss in any meaningful way in a recipe headnote. But if you’re feeling like you’re in a fog, do know that you’re not alone.

Because feeding times at my zoo must go on as scheduled or it gets particularly feral around here, I did make three new things last week, all from The Flavor Equation [Amazon, Bookshop], a fascinating new cookbook from Nik Sharma in which he uses his molecular biology background to apply what he knows about the science of taste to recipe development. He also has an excellent palate, demonstrated through years of blogging at A Brown Table. I made the book’s shaved brussels sprout salad with crispy shallots, the coconut chicken curry, and then, because it sounded so impossibly refreshing, this lemon and lime mintade. It was inspired by one Sharma had on a long intentional flight that, although 16 hours long, sounds positively dreamy right now, some 1600 weeks into this pandemic.

zest the lemons and limessteeping peels and mintready to juicehalf lemon, half lime juice

The approach here is very simple: Zest two lemons and limes. Sharma doesn’t like the microplane zester, preferring a cocktail zester; Deb has a cocktail zester but finds it annoying, is fine with the microplane zester, but really loves this type of serrated peeler (it excels at removing thin skins, like those of peaches and tomatoes, hardly a bad investment). In short: you have options. Then, make a simple syrup with sugar and water, add the zest and a good fistful of mint leaves and let it all chill together. Juice the lemons and limes and add the juice to the cooled syrup, strain it, and pour it halfway up a glass filled with ice, filling the rest with seltzer. Take a big sip that’s hopefully refreshing, clarifying, energizing, and several other -ings that my swamp brain could use a jolt of right now. I hope you find it equally magical.

lemon and lime mintade



6 months ago: Kachumber Cooler
1 year ago: Roasted Squash and Tofu with Ginger
2 years ago: Plush Coconut Cake
3 years ago: Sheet Pan Meatballs with Crispy Turmeric Chickpeas
4 years ago: Chocolate Dutch Baby
5 years ago: Blood Orange, Almond, and Ricotta Cake and Cabbage and Sausage Casserole
6 years ago: Key Lime Pie and Make Your Own Vanilla Extract
7 years ago: Pear and Hazelnut Muffins and Warm Lentil and Potato Salad
8 years ago: Lentil Soup with Sausage, Chard, and Garlic
9 years ago: Buttermilk Roast Chicken
10 years ago: Baked Potato Soup
11 years ago: Black Bean Soup + Toasted Cumin Seed Crema and Cranberry Syrup and an Intensely Almond Cake
12 years ago: Clementine Cake and Mushroom Bourguignon
13 years ago: Chicken Caesar Salad and Fried Chicken
14 years ago: Grapefruit Yogurt Cake

Lemon and Lime Mintade

  • 1 cup (200 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1 cup (235 ml) water
  • 2 large limes
  • 2 medium-large lemons
  • 1 bunch (about 2 ounces or 55 grams) fresh mint leaves and stems
  • 3 cups (720 ml) chilled club soda or seltzer

In a medium saucepan, bring sugar and water to a simmer, stirring until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and add zest (just the yellow and green part of the skin, not the white underneath) of both lemons and limes and all but a few leaves of the mint (save them for garnish). Cover with a lid and let chill completely, about 1 hour in the fridge.

Meanwhile, juice your lemons and limes. You want 1 cup total, half lemon and half lime juice. Once mint-zest syrup has chilled, strain out the solids and add the lemon and lime juice to the syrup. You can chill this juice-syrup mixture until needed, or up to one week in the fridge.

To serve: Fill a medium-sized glass with ice. Fill halfway with juice-syrup mixture, and the rest of the way with seltzer. Garnish with reserved mint leaves. Drink immediately.

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60 comments on lemon and lime mintade

  1. Rita

    seeing this recipe instantly transports me to a world of travel and beaches that seem like a distant memory right now. thank you. and because I’m gritting my teeth through a boozeless (by choice) January right now, I’m already thinking of what I could splash into this to ease into month 18,294 of quarantine. Vodka? Gin? even without though, this will make the rest of this month go by that much easier.

      1. Mairsydoats

        I was also going to recommend rum. Specifically, Bacardi Limon plays very nicely with any citrus product. There was the time we had a batch of homemade lemonade with rum when I accidentally got my elderly aunt blotto over dinner. Whoops! Good times!

  2. Sherra

    This sounds like just the ticket. In addition to the rest of the resident global madness I got braces this week (at 59 no less!) and may need a refreshing blast of deliciousness….

    1. Jo

      Totally easy, refreshing, delicious, and cheerful. Thank you for this, and so many other spot-on recipes through the years. Grateful!

  3. Meg

    This is what I needed. I’m standing in the kitchen at 4:00pm drinking a glass (a small one…out of my grandmother’s Boopie juice glasses) because things feel so overwhelming. We eat our main meal at mid day because we are firmly entrenched in middle age and because we can, so I have eaten today (homemade potato soup with also homemade rye bread…and about 1/4 of the same grandmother’s recipe for chocolate pound cake).

    1. Beth

      The idea of zesting 4 fruits with a cocktail zester makes my wrist ache! Long live the Microplane! One of my most favorite kitchen tools!

  4. Kate

    Deb, your recipes are reliably tasty and I always enjoy your perspectives on food and life. But I particularly appreciate this: “Armed insurrections are not a subject I know how to discuss in any meaningful way in a recipe headnote.” Because cooking is part of life, not divorced from reality. So, thank you.

  5. Holy Cow! I am with you on the fog thing. Also on the Nik Sharma book!! I bought it (and I don’t buy many cookbooks) after seeing a Food52 Genius recipe for sweet potatoes along with his explanation. I haven’t tried this yet, but will … and I just might also add a splash of gin to see if that will break down the fog :)

  6. Chris B

    This reminds me of my childhood, around 1960 in Melbourne Australia. After I went to the dentist downtown, my mother would take me to a swanky ice cream parlor called Daryl Lea, where I would be allowed to have a lime-mint freeze. I think it had vanilla ice cream in it, as well as a lime-mint syrup and something fizzy. As of today, the frost hasn’t killed the mint in my garden, so I might just have to make this!

  7. JessB

    Seriously! The emotional drain of the last year just about toppled me with the absolute shit show in DC. America, straighten up!
    PS both your double chocolate banana bread and light wheat bread were thoroughly enjoyed last week.

    1. Kjarkin

      Haha I was checking to see if anyone else had caught this. In this pandemic time it seems that all flights must be very intentional, if not also international.

  8. Julie Garagliano

    Thanks for not trying to distill what has happened in the past week into a soundbite. And thanks for the beginning of a great drink….. I make this same concoction in the summer but add bourbon to the mix. It’s like a combo mint julep/whisky sour. (A sour julep?) Even though it’s definitely not summer, bourbon is multi seasonal, so add a shot of it to your glass, splash a little seltzer on top and let’s take a deep breath and look to the future.

  9. Terri L

    Good morning

    I noticed a typo in the third paragraph. I believe you mean to ADD the juice.

    “Juice the lemons and limes and the juice to the cooled syrup,”

    My husband and I buy bags of lemons and limes when on sale. I zest the fruit for baking and freeze the juice. Makes for quick additions to recipes. I now know what I’m going to do with all the zest as I never use it fast enough.

    Happy January ;)

  10. Barbara

    This may be my first ever comment on your site, and i’m doing so not because the recipe looks delicious (although it certainly does), but because you used the words “armed insurrection” from the get-go. How refreshing (like the recipe!) to see the realities of the day reflected in such an unexpected place. Thank you. From the bottom of my aching heart, thank you.

  11. Emily

    Thanks for addressing this week in a reasonable way. I feel the hurt and fog too.

    May I ask which glasses you are using here? I’m looking to replace my chipped glasses and I love the size and thickness of these!

    1. JV

      So funny, I was just about to suggest the same thing! Would leave out the mint, right? But a blood orange syrup would be delicious. They’re about the only thing getting me through this…bloody winter.

  12. Jaclyn

    We make this lemon/lime/mint syrup into popsicles in our house! Good for sore throats, hot days, post-workout snacks, or swizzle-sticking into drinks. We made a batch this past Saturday and today my 11 year old saw this site and announced that Smitten Kitchen was “reading our minds”. Hope you are healthy and safe.

  13. Jessie

    Hi Deb! Looks delish! Wonder if you recommend that countertop burner I’ve been seeing in your stories? I’m looking for something similar. Thank you as always!

  14. Joan M Todd

    This is so good. Worth the work of zesting and juicing and making ice cubes. :-) I wonder if the juice-syrup mixture would freeze? I may experiment with that. (I don’t normally have ice cubes in my freezer. For some reason I don’t use them enough). Thanks for the lovely recipe. I’m in Orange County, CA and it’s supposed to be in the 80’s this week. We appear to be skipping winter this year.

  15. Bridgit

    It occurred to me today that under stress, your digestive system slows down, and that this might be the exact reason “comfort food” is heavy. This looks like the perfect antidote. Thanks as ever for your lovely nook in the inter-webs.

  16. James McNulty

    Very tasty with some changes.
    Used all limes as I have a Persian & Key Lime trees.
    Added a handful of Mint w/o weighing.
    Used about 1 inch of Ginger root – sliced.
    After bringing to a boil, I let it sit on a trivet for a half day to “steep” the Ginger.
    I added about 3/4 inch to a 12 ounce glass (to reduce sugar) and added 1 large ice-cube and the rest cold sparkling water.
    It was very tasty – thanks for photos and post/recipe.

  17. Jen S

    This sounds very bright and refreshing. Just what one needs during the dark Winter months + quarantine blues. I’m very thankful for citrus this time of year and use them in various ways to bring ‘sunshine’ to my life: salads, sauces for braised meats, cakes, drinks, and of course fresh eating.
    *side thought: I’m loving the “previously on this blog” lists lately and notice how I’ve made nearly all of them from recent posts in one variation or another.

  18. Rachel

    Armed insurrection? Did I miss something? One victim of excessive police force. I saw a fairly peaceful riot, no fires, no stores being stripped of their goods, etc. Outrageous yes, but I’ve been outraged since May. As Nancy said, people will do what they do…
    As to this recipe, anything citrus is my love language.

  19. Jennifer

    Oh my goodness…just reading this makes my mouth water! I’m taking a break from alcohol for a while and have been interested in ideas to make fizzy water a little more snazzy. This fits the bill perfectly! Can’t wait to try it.

  20. Neha

    Didn’t have seltzer but I DID have tonic, and it really hit the spot – the slight bitterness gave me the satisfaction of a cocktail, without the actual booze. Dry January friendly!

  21. CS

    Made this tonight for our Dry January Mocktails. Super easy, super yummy and not too sweet. Instead of making the simple syrup in a pot I boiled water in the electric kettle and added it to the sugar in a 6 cup Pyrex and stirred until the sugar dissolved, then added the other bits.

  22. Pam

    Should I admit that I make something more convenience oriented but possibly similar – using minute maid frozen lemonade and limeade. Dilute the frozen mix with the appropriate amount of seltzer, adding the juice of a lemon and a lime, and adding mint or basil leaves. Serve over ice. It’s always a hit. “Make that fizzy lemonade,” is the request —

  23. Sarah

    Made this today (added a shot of vodka) and it is simply PERFECT. I was testing it out for a cookout next weekend and I will definitely be making it again to share with others. This batch is staying with me!