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Lemonade with a Twist

Guest blogger and new First Person Arts volunteer Mia Aronson has an eclectic past: after years working as a pastry cook at Le Bec Fin, she moved into finance and operations with Razorfish. She’s bringing her foodie experience to the First Person blog where she’ll be trying out Caribbean-inspired recipes from upcoming Edible World guest author, Ann Vanderhoof. First up? A sweet and sour summer drink ideal for a sweltering day like today. I could go for one right about now myself (though I would probably add a splash of vodka to mine!). Salud! – Karina

Philly’s hot and humid Memorial Day weather was the perfect reason to test out a refreshing drink from Ann Vanderhoof’s soon to be released memoir, The Spice Necklace. The book is about Vanderhoof’s travels around the Caribbean with her husband on a 42-foot sailboat, with frequent stops to eat and learn about delicious local food and drink.

LLB ingredientsI am a huge fan of lemon and lime drinks. Margaritas, Mojitos, the lemonade from Nam Phuong in South Philly, Schweppe’s bitter lemon — I love them all. So it seemed a natural first choice to try Vanderhoof’s recipe for LLB (Lemon Lime Bitters), a drink she describes as “reminiscent of a lemon-lime soda, but with an adult edge…”.

The most difficult part about making the drink was finding the bitters. Rick Nichols wrote about the 2009-2010 shortage of Angostura bitters in his Inquirer column in March of this year. I’m not sure if the shortage is still going on, but I had to go to three PA Wine and Spirits stores to find it. After finally tracking down the bitters, the rest of the drink was easy. Whip up some lemonade, squeeze some lime, add the bitters, and stir up a cold, thirst quenching drink that will be my citrus beverage of choice for the rest of the summer.

citrus pressesA few food equipment and ingredient tips. The citrus presses pictured here are part of my “must have” cooking gear. I even cart the lime squeezer around in my suitcase if I’m headed for the beach. Nothing beats fresh squeezed citrus, and these are easy to use and get all the juice out. Pop half a lemon or lime in the press, cut side down, and squeeze the handles to get every last drop. They are available at pretty much any store that sells cooking supplies. I’ve been using organic agave nectar (a steal at Costco when they have it in stock) to sweeten my lemonade lately, but you can also use sugar syrup (equal parts sugar and water brought to a boil then cooled) or plain sugar in a pinch. And if you want to save some time, I imagine that no one would be the wiser if you used a good quality store bought lemonade and a squeeze of fresh lime.LLB

Do-It-Yourself LLB (Lemon Lime Bitters)

10 – 12 dashes Angostura Aromatic Bitters
2 cups lemonade
1 cup soda water (club soda)
2 tbsp fresh lime juice
2 slices of lemon or lime (for garnish)

1. Shake the bitters onto the insides of two tall glasses.
2. Add ice and swirl until the glasses are evenly coated.
3. Add half the lemonade, soda water and lime juice to each glass. Stir and garnish with lemon or lime.

Makes 2 tall drinks.

Want to learn more about Ann Vanderhoof’s travels and recipes? Come meet her in person at Edible World: The Spice Necklace on June 24 at 6pm at the Chestnut Hill Farmers Market. Tickets are $35 and include a meal from Calypso.

– Mia Aronson

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