I like to think of this as a duel-purpose beverage, because it is both an unusual and delicious addition to a barbeque or party, as well as a sort of healing tonic if you are recovering from a virus or some sort of physical trauma. Since I am currently doing all of those things (recovering, barbecuing, etc.), I have been sipping a lot of these spicy lemonades.
The base recipe makes a lightly-sweet and mildly spicy drink, and you can add and subtract amounts as you like. I used lemon balm as the herb for this particular infusion, but I also grow and use lemon thyme, lemon verbena, lemon basil, and lemon-scented geranium. I am incredibly fond of lemon herbs, obviously. For the chile infusion, I use my ubiquitous favorite, Aleppo pepper. Other great peppers to substitute would be Guajillo or Ancho. I don’t like the smokey overtone of chipotle with this, but use what you like.
- 3 cups water
- ½ cup honey (or more, to taste)
- 1 teaspoon crushed Aleppo pepper
- 2 or 3 strips fresh lemon zest
- 1 large handful fresh lemon balm, or other lemon-scented herb
- 1 cup fresh lemon juice
- Crushed ice
- Lemon slices and/or more fresh herbs, as garnish
- In a medium saucepan, heat the water with the honey, Aleppo pepper, lemon zest, and lemon balm. Heat to a low boil and then remove from heat and let it steep for ten to fifteen minutes.
- Strain the infusion through a fine sieve and add it to your serving pitcher along with the fresh lemon juice. Taste to adjust honey and/or lemon juice as desired. Add in a few cups of crushed ice and the lemon slices and reserved fresh herbs, and serve.
If you are serving this at an adults-only event, it is also great with a splash of vodka or rum. I’m sure that also adds to its medicinal values, or at least makes you care a lot less about any sniffling or sneezing.
Thanks for reading,