Spiked Lemonade

Homemade Spiked Lemonade

The Spruce / S&C Design Studios

Prep: 20 mins
Cook: 5 mins
Chill: 60 mins
Total: 85 mins
Servings: 8 to 10 servings
Yield: 8 cups
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
191 Calories
0g Fat
37g Carbs
1g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 8 to 10
Amount per serving
Calories 191
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 0g 0%
Saturated Fat 0g 0%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 8mg 0%
Total Carbohydrate 37g 14%
Dietary Fiber 2g 8%
Total Sugars 32g
Protein 1g
Vitamin C 43mg 213%
Calcium 25mg 2%
Iron 0mg 3%
Potassium 111mg 2%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Summer is the time for fresh-squeezed lemonade, and spiking it transforms the refreshing beverage into an adults-only delight. This spiked lemonade recipe is best with light rum or vodka and features a homemade lemon zest syrup for extra flavor. It's made by the pitcher, too. You'll have plenty to share or keep in the fridge for a quick cocktail.

Some people like a stronger lemonade while others prefer it slightly alcoholic, so this recipe is adaptable. As you fill the pitcher, you can build a balance of flavors that perfectly suit your taste. In general, lemonade is made with 1 part each of simple syrup and lemon juice and 2 to 3 parts of water. When spiking lemonade, the liquor replaces a portion of the water (in the recipe, it's about 1/2 part).

Lemon wheels are great, but you can also get creative with the garnish and give your lemonade a pop of color and flavor. Lime slices, fresh berries, and seasonal fruits are easy and fun additions. Or add a herbal sprig to each glass: basil, lavender, and rosemary are perfect for lemonade.

"This recipe amps up the fresh flavor of the Spiked Lemonade by adding a generous amount of lemon zest in the homemade simple syrup in addition to the fresh lemon juice. Add your choice of rum or vodka, and you have a delicious and refreshing adult beverage perfect for your next summer party." —Joan Velush

Spiked Lemonade
A Note From Our Recipe Tester


  • 5 cups water, divided, more to taste

  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest

  • 6 to 8 large lemons, plus slices for garnish

  • 1/2 cup chilled light rum or vodka, more to taste

  • Seasonal fruit, for garnish, optional

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for Fresh-Squeezed Spiked Lemonade

    The Spruce / S&C Design Studios

  2. In a small saucepan, bring 1 cup of water to a boil. Add the sugar and lemon zest. Remove from the heat and whisk until the sugar dissolves, about 5 minutes. Let the lemon syrup cool completely.

    Lemon Zest Syrup for Lemonade

    The Spruce / S&C Design Studios

  3. While the syrup cools, juice the lemons. Remove the pulp and seeds by pouring the juice through a fine-mesh strainer. Chill until ready to make lemonade.

    Fresh-Squeezed Lemon Juice for Spiked Lemonade

    The Spruce / S&C Design Studios

  4. To a large pitcher, add 1/2 cup of rum or vodka, 1 cup each of lemon syrup and lemon juice, and 4 cups of cold water. Stir and taste. Add more liquor, syrup, juice, and water to adjust the strength to your taste. Chill the lemonade for at least 1 hour or until needed.

    Making a Pitcher of Spiked Lemonade

    The Spruce / S&C Design Studios

  5. When ready to serve, pour the spiked lemonade into ice-filled glasses. Garnish with lemon slices and, if you like, seasonal fruits. Enjoy.

    Fresh-Squeezed Spiked Lemonade

    The Spruce / S&C Design Studios


  • The recipe produces 2 cups of lemon syrup which is a little more than you may need for the lemonade. Store any excess in a jar or bottle in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. Top it with soda for a quick homemade lemon soda. It also works as the syrup for a lemon drop martini and a sour mix substitute in cocktails.
  • Six average-sized lemons yield about 1 1/2 cups of juice. It's a good idea to have a few extra lemons around so you can add more juice if needed.
  • Make the lemonade's flavor a little strong because it will dilute slightly when served over ice.
  • When the pitcher of lemonade is out of the fridge, keep it cold with large ice cubes. These will dilute more slowly than smaller pieces of ice.

Recipe Variations

  • Switch to your favorite type of sugar; raw or coconut sugar creates a more richly flavored syrup. Agave nectar can replace the syrup, and honey syrup works well, too.
  • If you want to make a pitcher of nonalcoholic lemonade and spike it by the glass, use about 1 1/2 ounces of liquor for 4 to 5 ounces of lemonade.
  • Muddle fresh berries in each glass then top it with the spiked lemonade.
  • Make sparkling lemonade by topping each glass with soda water. You can add it to the pitcher but it will go flat over time; add any carbonated mixer just before serving.

How Strong Is the Spiked Lemonade

This spiked lemonade is not very strong at all. If you blend a full cup of 80-proof liquor into a 60-ounce pitcher, the lemonade's alcohol content will fall around 5 percent ABV (10 proof). That's equivalent to the average beer.

Which Liquors Go Best With Lemonade?

Rum and vodka are the best liquors for a neutral-flavored lemonade that will appeal to various tastes. They're not your only options. As the Lynchburg lemonade and other cocktails prove, some whiskies work as well. Stick with Tennessee whiskey, bourbon, or blended whiskey; scotch is not a great choice unless it's in a more complex mix like the witch hunt. Tequila will work, but you might want to switch to limeade or a mix of lemon and lime juices. Liqueurs are another option: Try a brandy-based orange liqueur (e.g., Grand Marnier) or split the main liquor with hazelnut liqueur. For a flavored rum or vodka, all types of berries, coconut, and ginger pair best with lemons.