Fresh Ginger Lemonade

I once got into a Scrabble tiff when I was challenged for using the word “ade.” I’ve played Scrabble in English, and in French, and I’ve determined that it’s impossible to win if facing French players due to the astounding selection of verb conjugations they have at their disposal. Except for this guy, who doesn’t even speak French, but memorized French words in the dictionary.

Fortunately, I don’t have a competitive streak, although I did dig my heels over ade, when I was playing Scrabble with some fellow anglophones who refused to concede that ade was an actual word. There was a dictionary on hand in the summer house we were staying at, that confirmed that it is a drink made with fruit. (Oddly, I tried to look it up now, but couldn’t find it in Webster’s. Don’t tell my friends, though, who may want a rematch.)

Whether it’s a noun or a suffix, I’ll leave all that stuff to the nerds. I used my time to do some squeezing, so I could refresh myself with this pepped up lemonade, with the zing of fresh ginger. It’s the double word score of lemonade.

With temperatures soaring this time of year, I was tempted to drink it all by myself – and I did! Poured over glasses of crackly ice, the tart lemon isn’t tempered by the ginger, but the two work together to make something a little spicy, a little tangy, and a whole lot of refreshing.


Fresh Ginger Lemonade
Print Recipe
1 quart (1l), about 4 servings
I like mine with lots of ginger so I use the larger amount indicated, but feel free to use either. If you think you'd like it less-sweet (although I don't find this too sweet), you could reduce the sugar to 1/3 cup (65g). If you wish to use a liquid sweetener, such as maple syrup, honey, or agave nectar in place of the sugar, I'd try starting off using 1/3 cup then tasting it, adding more if you wish.
2 to 3 ounces (55-85g) fresh ginger, unpeeled
3 cups (750ml) water
1/2 cup (100g) sugar
1 cup (250ml) lemon juice, freshly squeezed
1. Cut the ginger into thin slices (no need to peel). In a small saucepan, bring the water, sugar, and ginger slices to a boil.
2. Remove from heat and cover. Steep for 30 minutes to 1 hour.
3. Strain the ginger pieces from the sugar syrup and mix the ginger-infused syrup with the fresh lemon juice in a pitcher. Chill thoroughly. Serve with plenty of ice.

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58 comments

  • July 10, 2017 11:59pm

    Sounds absolutely perfect to fight our 100º+ temperatures!

  • Romain Pellas
    July 11, 2017 12:27am

    J’adore !

  • Madeline B.
    July 11, 2017 2:04am

    This I will make. I’m going to the store right now!

  • Anne
    July 11, 2017 2:20am

    Add some vodka – yum!

  • Bryan
    July 11, 2017 4:00am

    Je l’ai fait ce soir. J’adore ! Top !

  • July 11, 2017 11:56am

    This sounds like a perfect combination.
    My Webster’s has -ade listed as a suffix, not as a word itself.

  • Luke
    July 11, 2017 1:46pm

    The Scrabble dictionary (at least British English) allows all prefixes and suffixes, which is where “ade” and many of the unusual two letter words get in. (ab, ad, al etc)

  • Gigi
    July 11, 2017 5:11pm

    I, too, have been challenged for using the word “ade”. Even my spell corrector doesn’t like it. My sympathies.

    • July 11, 2017 9:18pm
      David Lebovitz

      I played Scrabble with a French friend and she used “Wu” a lot, since it’s hard to use the high-value “W.” I challenged her, because it’s apparently a Chinese word for money (and I don’t know if that’s allowed, unless you’re playing in Chinese…) but since she was an older woman, I gave her the benefit of using it.

      Even though I think it wasn’t allowed : )

  • Jess
    July 11, 2017 5:20pm

    I’ve been craving this with the recent hot weather here in the UK! Perfect timing!

    Question: approx how many lemons to get 250ml lemon juice?

    • July 11, 2017 9:16pm
      David Lebovitz

      About 4 to 6 lemons, depending on the size of the lemons.

  • Rads
    July 11, 2017 5:22pm

    Yummy, will make these! How do you think keffir lime will work with the ginger?

  • July 11, 2017 5:24pm

    I am not allowed to play German words when playing scrabble. I love anything ginger but unfortunately all my Meyer lemons are being picked by people walking from Starbucks to the beach. My lemon tree is on the way.

    • Linda L.
      July 11, 2017 9:39pm

      There is a special place in hell reserved for people who swipe fruit from other people’s trees and gardens!! Perhaps 10 year olds could be excluded since it’s an important part of growing up but the rest of them will burn!

      • E.Me
        July 22, 2017 9:29pm

        I, too, am verboten to play German words whilst playing Scrabble or Scattergories….I should think this would encourage ones mates to learn a foreign language simply for the sole benefit of winning at Scrabble. Alas, this isnt so and it is verboten for me to place words such as ‘zweck’ for 23 points…. but this ginger syrup with mint, lemon balm and lemon….koestlich (19 points)

  • sillygirl
    July 11, 2017 5:43pm

    I got one of those shave ice machines at the thrift shop a few years ago and do drinks with it – also get ginger in the mark-down bin so this is getting made today!

  • Jake Sterling
    July 11, 2017 6:01pm

    I’ve been doing this for years, but I use sparkling water and avoid the “ade” controversy by calling it “ale,” which is definitely a word. (The basic ingredients of commercial gingerale are sugar of some sort, ginger and citric acid.)

    The basic difference with my recipe is that I grate the ginger, or sometimes run it through a food processor. I figure the tinier pits mean more surface area; and more surface area means more transfer of flavor to the syrup.

    • Jake Sterling
      July 11, 2017 6:03pm

      That was supposed to be, “I figure the tinier BITS.”

      • Virginia
        July 11, 2017 6:18pm

        Nice to add a few fresh mint leaves (especially if you have some growing in the yard).

  • Nancy Elliott
    July 11, 2017 6:43pm

    Sounds great David. I have made this drink with raw honey instead of sugar and sometimes I add a little stevia (just makes it a little sweeter). You can mix this in a super blender like vitamix or blendtec so you can just put the ginger root in raw. The raw honey is good for you too. Very healthy drink, all the benefits of ginger, lemons and raw honey.

  • Jen
    July 11, 2017 6:44pm

    This sounds so delicious, and I’m always happy to have another use for fresh ginger.

    Words With Friends doesn’t allow ‘ade’ and it drives me crazy.

  • Kathryn
    July 11, 2017 6:49pm

    This sounds wonderful. Recently all the ginger I see in the stores is from China…I will need to seek out another source for fresh ginger as I prefer not to purchase or use foods from China. Sigh….

  • Nancy Elliott
    July 11, 2017 6:50pm

    I call mine gingeraideIt’s good for any kind of inflammation because of the ginger.

  • Nancy Elliott
    July 11, 2017 6:52pm

    I think I will call it gingerade now

  • July 11, 2017 7:10pm

    May I suggest 2 generous tablespoons of honey instead of the sugar? I’ve just made the syrup with this substitution and it’s delicious.
    Thanks for an inspiring refreshment on this hot, hot day.

  • denny
    July 11, 2017 7:41pm

    Excellent. Made with meyer lemons (6 lemons yielded a generous cup of juice) and added a few kaffir lime leaves.

    Now if we only had a few pain d’amande or sables breton cookies to accompany the lemonade. It’s just too damn hot to bake anything today.

  • Jan Sturtevant
    July 11, 2017 8:03pm

    I used to make ginger syrup. I made ginger ale with it, adding a squeeze of lime. Yum. The ginger syrup was lovely in other iterations: on ice cream, fresh fruit, and especially pancakes or waffles. One Sunday we were very short on syrup of any kind except ginger, and had boysenberries on hand. That combo was divine!

  • TedL
    July 11, 2017 8:12pm

    Back around 2005 Chef Leah Caplan took over the kitchen at the Washington Hotel on Washington Island, Wisconsin (it’s an island in Lake Michigan at the mouth of Green Bay) and started cooking really delicious food, locally sourced to the extent possible. She had a small wine list that was decent but my beverage of choice was her Ginger Limeade, the recipe for which is nearly the same as yours but made with limes. I have made it at home with both lemons and limes and I like the lime version much better. Her quest for local produce led her to commission 30 acres of organic wheat from a farmer on the Island so she had organic flour for the hotel-baked bread. I think she had about 29 and a half acres worth of wheat left over so she contacted the proprietors of Capitol Brewery in Madison Wisconsin about making wheat beer, which was the nascence of Island Wheat Beer. It was quite successful which led to an agricultural revival of sorts on the Island as farmers planted about 800 acres of organic wheat for the beer. This in turn led to a couple of Island entrepreneurs developing a line of distilled spirits made from Island wheat called Death’s Door, which is the name of the passage between the end of the Door County peninsula and Washington Island. Door County is named after Death’s Door, which was called Porte des Morts by the French explorers due to its treacherous currents. Death’s Door gin is exceptionally good, and is made with Island juniper berries, harvested from common juniper, which grows like a weed on the Island.

    • witloof
      July 12, 2017 12:03am

      I also prefer limes, mostly because I’m lazy and they don’t have seeds.

  • Audrey
    July 12, 2017 1:01am

    I would steep some of the yellow part of the lemon rind with the ginger to give it some lemon flavour. The juice only gives sour!

  • Cece
    July 12, 2017 1:04am

    Ade is always in the New York Times crossword puzzle so it is definitely legit! This sounds so refreshing, must try soon. Merci!

    • July 13, 2017 2:06am
      David Lebovitz

      Hmmm, that’s interesting. I thought perhaps “ade” was a British word (I don’t recall which version English dictionary I found it in), but happy to use it as inspiration for sharing this lemon ade ; )

      • Martin
        July 23, 2017 9:47am

        David, you’ve obviously opened up a Pandora’s can of floodgates with your shameful flouting of Scrabble rules, but then arguing about the game’s rules is always part of the fun.
        Hasbro, the current official US licensee, states the rules thusly:
        “Before the game begins, all players should agree upon the dictionary that they will use, in case of a challenge. All words labeled as a part of speech (including those listed of foreign origin, and as archaic, obsolete, colloquial, slang, etc.) are permitted with the exception of the following: words always capitalized, abbreviations, prefixes and suffixes standing alone, words requiring a hyphen or an apostrophe.”
        This how all my family and friends, down here in Australia, have played the game since the 1960’s. Bear in mind that the majority of Scrabble players are pedants by nature, but not necessarily opposed to creativity. You all may, for example, wish to allow both English and French words (two dictionaries required). Or create a rule that anyone who uses a word not in the authorised dictionary has to make a round of gingerade for all the players; a fair and just penalty with benefits all round. As long as there is consensus on the rules beforehand, you are free to do what you wish, and shouldn’t fear a knock on the door from the NSA (National Scrabble Association, yes that is their official acronym).
        Although in tournaments there are official dictionaries, most scrabble games have the freedom of the individual home, which is just as well as apparently the Anti-Defamation League applied pressure regarding the Official Scrabble Players Dictionary to the Hasbro chairman who announced that a third edition would be published with “offensive” words like “jew”, “farted”, “fatso”, and “boobie” removed. The NSA had them reinstated.
        I have found that the Concise Oxford Dictionary has sufficient gravitas to satisfy most players, but usually prefer The Compact Oxford Dictionary. This is the complete Oxford in the format of one huge microscopically-printed volume, weighing over 10kg and coming with its own high-powered magnifying glass. There are never any arguments.
        As you know, few guard their language as vigilantly as the French so, in addition to the dictionary of choice, it may be safest to have a member of the Académie Française present at future games.

  • Sylvia
    July 12, 2017 1:21am

    Hi David. Just made this lemonade with lemons from our yard, and ginger from the market. We had one glass with gin, and another with vodka. Both delicious. Perfect for these hot Sonoma days. Thank you!

  • naomi d.
    July 12, 2017 2:54am

    I like mixing some soda water in too. I looked in the (online) 1828 Webster Dictionary but didn’t see “ade” as anything but a suffix. I can no longer pull up the 1900 one – lost in the ether. I do like having the old one to reference; it’s funny what some words meant before as compared to now (look up “nice”).

  • Marcia
    July 12, 2017 5:19am

    As I’m a Southwestern gal (of a certain + age), I’ll go with adding a nice spike of tequila to mine.
    Great recipe, David — thanks!

  • Gavrielle
    July 12, 2017 6:44am

    It’s a chilly winter’s day here in Auckland and the rain is lashing at the windows. I want this and a summer to drink it in. Something to look forward to.

    • Viki
      July 13, 2017 7:51am

      I’m in Whakatane, just drink it still hot! works a treat.

  • JC
    July 12, 2017 5:10pm

    I use the rind of organic lemons when steeping and add honey instead of sugar. It also is delicious hot. And it is great for colds, flu,
    and morning sickness.

  • July 12, 2017 5:49pm

    I prefer mint to ginger, so tend to use that, steeping the bruised mint leaves in a little boiling water with thinly-pared lemon rind (I’m really surprised to see that neither you nor Clotilde uses this – it seriously adds to the flavour) and honey or sugar. Then strain, and add the lemon juice and cold water and ice to taste. Lovely!

  • July 12, 2017 6:01pm

    I’m thinking that if you use crystallized ginger you may not need the extra sugar, but I guess it’s more expensive that way? I have had a need for lemonade since the winter broke, and if you buy the good store bought and add more lemon and some water, that works too. Of course I have been making it from scratch. I don’t know what difficiency I have that I want lemony acid but not so much tomato?

  • July 12, 2017 6:50pm

    This is simply gorgeous!!
    Mille merci

  • Joel Kahn
    July 12, 2017 10:42pm

    Like others I added strips of lemon peel to the ginger-sugar mixture, letting them steep as directed

  • Susan B
    July 13, 2017 1:22am

    Great minds: Clotilde just posted a sparkling honey-ginger lemonade!

  • Danuta Gajewski
    July 13, 2017 7:08am

    Absolute heaven! Just made my first batch this afternoon, we drank half over ice, and the other half with club soda! YUM!! Thank you so much, David….this is a keeper!

  • Carol
    July 13, 2017 8:20am

    Hi David,

    Just made this recipe but tripled it seen as I had so many lemons. How long will it keep?

    • July 14, 2017 12:03pm

      I find it keeps 3 or 4 days in the fridge.

  • margarida
    July 14, 2017 2:44pm

    i like to make a ticker syrup with the ginger, sugar and some water, keep it at the fridge and mix it last minute, with iced sparkling water and some drops of freshly squezed lemon. home made ginger ale – my drink of choice during summer time. love it :)

    • July 14, 2017 2:46pm
      David Lebovitz

      I often use a ginger syrup to flavor drinks. (My recipe is here.) And you’re right, it’s good in lots of things!

  • Asih
    July 15, 2017 1:37am

    Hi David, gonna make it for the first time, what will happen if I boil all the ingredients at once including the lemon juice? Will it preserved longer? Will it change the taste?

    • July 15, 2017 4:54am
      David Lebovitz

      Boiling or cooking lemon juice (or any citrus) changes the flavor and not only do you lose the freshness of it, but it can taste bitter after cooking. So I don’t cook or boil it.

  • Karen Brown
    July 15, 2017 1:43am

    This is so delicious! Made a double batch, but as the standard lemons that I get in my local fruit shop are Meyers,I used slightly less sugar. Here in New Zealand, Meyer lemons are prolific, and I have to as my greengrocer to keep his eye out for Lisbons or Eurekas, as I prefer the sharpness of those varieties.
    Because I’m quite a lazy soul, I don’t squeeze the lemons. I put them through the slicing disc of the food processor, and poured some of the syrup over the slices. Then a bit of a bash with the potato masher, and straining the lot. This method is easier on my (arthritic) hands, and also imparts a bit of oil from the zest.
    Thinking of citrus, I found a Buddha hand at the market, but only bought one. I was going to try your candied citron recipe with it. Do you think it will work, if I halve the recipe? And if so, what would you use candied Buddha hand for? Do you eat it like a candy? Or is it more a baking ingredient? Thanks from down-under, Karen

    • July 15, 2017 4:53am
      David Lebovitz

      Citron is great in panforte, but is also nice chopped up and used in ice cream or added to cake batters, such as pound cake. It’s also good just as it is – like candy!

      • Karen Brown
        July 17, 2017 3:03am

        Thanks for the ideas. Even though it’s colder than charity here in NZ, I’m going to try it as an ice cream add-in. Maybe buttermilk or lemon will showcase the candied Buddha hand (that’s if I can stop nibbling it!)

  • Jean B.
    July 17, 2017 5:27pm

    I made this and it is excellent! Very easy too.

  • July 21, 2017 5:36pm

    I made it and it was very refreshing!

  • Michael Miller
    August 1, 2017 5:18pm

    BTW, David, you can increase the amoung of ginger and sugar, use the syrup, then roll the ginger slices in sugar, dry them on a rack. You then have delicious crystallized ginger to eat as a treat, or its great when your stomach feels queasy.

    • August 2, 2017 10:46am
      David Lebovitz

      Thanks Michael. Yes, I also love candied ginger, and the syrup. I’ve got recipes for Candied Ginger and Ginger Syrup on the site, in case people aren’t making this lemonade but want some of either!

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