Homemade Hard Lemonade Circa 1935

Aug 3, 2017

California Lemonade is next up in Mr. Boston’s 1935 recipe book. I admit, this is recipe did not excite me. All these citrus heavy cocktails are starting to bore my taste buds.

As I started thinking more about the drink, I realized that the California Lemonade was the original hard lemonade. Maybe not the first, but definitely older than today’s pre-made variety.

1930's Lemonade Stand

EBallPhotography’s etsy shop is selling this amazing 1930’s black and white of a street vendor peddling “Red Hot Frankfurters and Ice Cold Lemonade” – I have a hunch this is the non-alcoholic variety 🙂

Unlike the current brands whose hard lemonade’s use malt liquor, the California Lemonade published by Leo Cotton calls for a Jigger of “Old Mr. Boston’s Whiskey”.

As I only just discovered, malt liquor is a high-proof spirit that is fermented from corn, sugar and malted barley. Not quite beer or wine and not distilled like a Whiskey or Vodka. I can add that to my strange booze repository 🙂

I did a quick search for another hard California Lemonade recipe and turned up empty handed. Could this actually be a Mr. Boston’s original? I don’t believe we’e uncovered a recipe in this 1935 book that didn’t originally come from another publication. Perhaps I haven’t searched deep enough?

Cal-Crest Lemon Advertisement

California citrus production was at it’s highest until the mid 1940’s. I just love a great vintage lemon ad – the blue and yellow are so lovely together!

Since lemons and limes are rumored to be larger these days, I made my California Lemonade with 1/2 of each fruit rather than the suggested “juice of 1 Lemon and 1 Lime.” After juicing each and straining the combination through a fine mesh filter, I added the tablespoon of powdered sugar noted in the recipe and gave it a quick taste.

The sweetness wasn’t quite there for me. Just about when I was about to add another tablespoon I realized I should add the dash of Grenadine needed and see if that made any difference first.

I’d never given any thought to how pink lemonade gets its hue. Apparently Grenadine has been one of the additives of choice for achieving the color for sometime. This cocktail is full of new information!

While the color was a beautiful pale pink, the sweetness was still lacking. I through in another tablespoon of sugar and it seemed good to go.

My final California Lemonade looked like this:

  • Juice of 1/2 of 1 Lemon
  • Juice of 1/2 of 1 Lime
  • 2 tablespoons of powdered sugar
  • A dash of Grenadine
  • 1-1/2 ounces of Evan Williams Bottled in Bond Bourbon
  • 3 ounces of plain sparkling water

Having enjoyed a Hard Lemonade a time or two I’d say that the Whiskey makes the California Lemonade a bit heavier. It could just be that my 6 ounce Delmonico glass didn’t allow me to add enough sparkling water. As I sipped the drink down and refilled it with more water, the drink was much more refreshing. It took some tinkering, but I think I rather like tonight’s cocktail. I may even find myself mixing up another before the Vegas heat subsides. Goes to show you can’t always tell if you’ll like something until you try it.