There are varieties of lemonade found throughout the world. In North America and South Asia, cloudy lemonade dominates. It is traditionally a homemade drink using lemon juice, water, and a sweetener such as cane sugar, simple syrup or honey. In the United Kingdom, Ireland and Australia, a carbonated lemonade is more common. Despite the differences between the drinks, each is known simply as "lemonade" in countries where it is dominant.
A drink made with lemons, dates, and honey was consumed in 13th and 14th century Egypt, including a lemon juice drink with sugar, known as qatarmizat. In 1676, a company known as Compagnie de Limonadiers sold lemonade in Paris.
While carbonated water was invented by Joseph Priestley in 1767, the first reference found to carbonated lemonade was in 1833 when the drink was sold in British refreshment stalls. R. White's Lemonade has been sold in the UK since 1845.
The predominant form of lemonade found in the US, Canada, and India, cloudy lemonade, also known as traditional or old fashioned lemonade in the UK and Australia, is non-carbonated and made with fresh lemon juice; however, commercially produced varieties are also available. Generally served cold, cloudy lemonade may also be served hot as a remedy for congestion and sore throats, frozen, or used as a mixer.
Traditionally, children in US and Canadian neighborhoods start lemonade stands to make money during the summer months. The concept has become iconic of youthful summertime Americana to the degree that parodies and variations on the concept exist across media. References can be found in comics and cartoons such as Peanuts, and the 1979 computer game Lemonade Stand.
A popular variation of traditional lemonade, pink lemonade, is created by adding additional fruit juices, flavors, or food coloring to the recipe. Most store-bought pink lemonade is simply colored with concentrated grape juice or dyes.
Another origin story credits another circus worker, Pete Conklin, in 1857. His brother George Conklin tells the story in his 1921 memoir. According to the story, Conklin's lemonade was a mixture of water, sugar and tartaric acid, with the tub garnished with a single lemon that he repeatedly used for the season. One day, he ran out of water. Searching desperately, he found a tub of water a bareback rider had recently used to rinse her pink tights. Adding in the sugar, acid and remaining bits of lemon, he offered the resulting mixture as "strawberry lemonade" and saw his sales double.
The predominant form of lemonade in the UK, Ireland, South Africa, and Australia is a clear, lemon-flavoured carbonated beverage. Schweppes, R. White's Lemonade and C&C are common brands, and shops usually carry a store-branded lemonade as well. Schweppes uses a blend of lemon and lime oils. Other fizzy drinks, soft-drinks (or pop) which are both lemon and lime flavoured may also sometimes be referred to as lemonade, such as Sprite and 7 up. There are also speciality flavours, such as Fentimans Rose Lemonade, which is sold in the UK, the US, and Canada. Shandy, a mixture of beer and clear lemonade, is often sold pre-bottled, or ordered in pubs.
In India and Pakistan, where it is commonly known as nimbu paani, and in Bangladesh, lemonades may also contain salt and/or ginger juice. Shikanjvi is a traditional lemonade from this region, and can also be flavored with saffron, cumin and other spices.
Limonana, a type of lemonade made from freshly squeezed lemon juice and mint leaves, is a common summer drink in the Middle East. In Northern Africa, a drink called cherbat is made of lemon, mint, and rose water.
In France, it is common for restaurants to offer citron pressé, an unmixed version of lemonade in which the customer is given lemon juice, syrup and water separately to be mixed in their preferred proportions.
The high concentration of citric acid in lemon juice is the basis for popular culture recommendations of consumption of lemonade to prevent calcium-based kidney stones. Studies have not demonstrated that lemonade causes a sustained improvement of urine pH, increased citric acid concentration in urine, reduction in supersaturation by stone-forming salts, or prevention of recurrent stones.
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- Of the Street Sale of Ginger-Beer, Sherbet, Lemonade,&C., from London Labour and the London Poor, Volume 1, Henry Mayhew, 1851; subsequent pages cover the costs and income of street lemonade sellers.