from Dining with the Washingtons
This is believed to be the recipe that the Washington’s served at their Friday Night Summer Parties in Philadelphia and also at Summer gatherings at Mount Vernon. It is most likely the refreshment that Abigail Adams referred to be served along with her “ice creems”. I have the great fortune of having a lemon tree in my backyard, so I am constantly looking for ways to use lots of lemons. This is an exceptionally refreshing and delightful summer drink, and can be made with or without alcohol and be delicious either way. *It is important to note that there is a lot of zesting involved in this otherwise simple recipe…especially if you are making it for a large crowd.*
Juice and zest of 6 large lemons
4 1/2 cups water, divided, plus more as needed
1 cup sugar, plus more as needed. (The recipe calls for 2 cups of sugar, but I found that to be way too sweet, one cup was plenty… possibly even less… so I say start with one add more if your taste desires it.)
2 cups medium-dry white wine (optional)
Juice of one orange
Put the zest in a medium saucepan, and pour in 2 cups of the water. Cover and bring to a boil. Immediately turn off the heat and let cool to room temperature.
Stir in the lemon juice, add the sugar and stir to dissolve. Strain and add enough of the remaining water and more sugar, if desired, to suit your taste.
Stir in the wine and orange juice, if desired, and chill for at least 1 hour before serving.