Caribbean-Style Jamaican Lemonade

Caribbean lemonade
Limeade beverage. Bill Boch/Photlibrary/GettyImages
  • Total: 6 mins
  • Prep: 6 mins
  • Cook: 0 mins
  • Chill: 60 mins
  • Yield: 1 pitcher (10 servings)

Lime water, swank, and wash are all names used to describe Caribbean-style Jamaican lemonade. The recipe is actually made with limes rather than lemons because that fruit is much more prevalent in the region.

Apart from the freshly squeezed lime juice and water, this refreshing drink is sweetened with demerara sugar or cane sugar. To add a hint of spice, a few drops of vanilla essence are included in the mix. A dash or two of Angostura Bitters—originally made and bottled in Trinidad & Tobago—finishes it off nicely and makes this Caribbean lemonade a refreshing and enticing drink.


  • 1/2 cup lime juice (fresh, about 8 limes)
  • 7 cups water
  • 1 cup sugar (demerara or white, more to taste)
  • 3/4 teaspoon vanilla essence
  • Optional: Angostura Bitters (to taste)

Steps to Make It

  1. Add all the ingredients except the bitters to a large pitcher.

  2. Stir until the sugar is dissolved. Taste for sweetness and adjust accordingly.

  3. Chill until ready to serve or serve immediately over ice. Add a couple of drops of the bitters to each glass just before serving.


  • When it comes to juicing the limes, you can expect to get about 1 tablespoon of juice from each fruit, so you will need at least eight limes for 1/2 cup. However, you may get more or less juice depending on the fruit. It's best to have a few extras on hand; you can always use any excess for garnishes.
  • There are two things you can do to get the most juice from your limes. First, bring them to room temperature before you juice them; the colder they are, the less juice they produce. Then, roll them on the counter or cutting board while gently pushing down on the fruit. This will loosen up the membranes, allowing more juice to escape.

Recipe Variations

  • Choosing to use the raw sugar known as demerara (or turbinado), instead of regular white cane sugar, creates a rich flavor profile that is similar to molasses. Some recipes even use standard brown sugar and add molasses, though that can be more difficult to dissolve in cold liquid. 
  • While limes are the primary citrus fruit used for the drink, you could also add the juice from a lemon to give it a little extra tang.