We've already had a string of exceptionally hot, humid days here in NYC, so the need for something refreshing and delicious that isn't necessarily boozy is especially acute. Limeade is just different enough that it seems like an impressive addition to a summer picnic lunch or dinner party, but is still ridiculously easy to make from scratch. Here are three fresh takes on limeade that are just as good as the original.
Black Peppercorn Limeade
The humble black peppercorn is totally transformed when steeped in a simple syrup. The taste of the finished product completely caught me off-guard: it's much more spicy than I expected and seriously complex. It may be the summer of black pepper cocktails for me because this stuff goes great with warm-weather fruits like berries and watermelon. Here, in a simple limeade, fresh-squeezed lime juice brings out the bright citrusy notes of the pepper and adds a nice kick.
Although spitting seeds and having juice run down your forearms are definitive parts of consuming watermelon, I'd argue that drinking it is a pretty satisfying alternative. Blending chunks of watermelon and giving it a quick strain through cheesecloth yields a sweet liquid that is a perfect foil for tart lime juice. Plus, it's darn pretty, so it makes an easy, but impressive pitcher drink for summer entertaining.
Panela, unrefined cane sugar that is often sold in solid discs, has a much more full-bodied flavor than refined sugars. It is similar to molasses, but not quite as robust. It needs to be chopped up and dissolved in hot water before being used in a drink like this limeade so it's just a bit more labor intensive, but the resulting deep, caramely flavor is totally worth it.