When life hands you lemons, make something. Lemonade will do, particularly as a way of cooling down during the blistering hot afternoons we've been experiencing lately. The beverage isn't as old as wine or beer but has a distinguished history: The Egyptians sipped an alcoholic concoction of honey, dates and lemons in the 14th century, and the less intoxicating shikanjviin Northern India and Pakistan is tarted-up lemon juice with ginger, saffron and cumin.
Kansas Citians have long been fans of the citrusy beverage, even when fresh lemons were a luxury. (A local company, the George A. Fox Products Co., made lemon syrup for drugstore soda fountains during the 1930s and 1940s). Because it's not so easy to find a neighborhood drugstore soda fountain these days for a refreshing lemonade, lemon soda or lemon phosphate, it's up to Fat City to point out places for the best lemony beverages in the city. Here are five choices for your consideration.
1. Lemonade, Grand Street Cafe (4740 Grand, 816-561-8000). The bartenders at Grand Street Cafe skillfully shake up an icy lemonade using a house-made blend of fresh lemon juice, lime juice, a touch of orange juice, simple syrup, and a splash of Sprite for a hint of effervescence.
3. Sparkling Lavender Lemonade, Parisi Cafe (Union Station, 816-842-5282). The newest summer beverage offered by the local Parisi Coffee brand, this pale-pink lemonade has a subtle herbal note and the light fragrance of freshly picked lavender.
4. Lemonade, Murray's Ice Cream & Cookies (4120 Pennsylvania, 816-931-5646). There's a choice of sweet, tart or "medium" lemonade here. The latter is still sort of sweet. Fresh lemon juice is mixed with simple syrup and a splash of soda water. Maybe it's not quite as refreshing as one of this shop's gorgeous milkshakes - but it's cheaper.
5. Skun-jabeen or Pakistani Lemonade, Chai Shai (651 East 59th Street, 816-26 - 5203). Not everyone is going to fall in love with this distinctive summer drink made with fresh lemon juice, crushed black salt, water and a splash of sparkling water; the salty taste dominates. But if it's refreshing enough for the oppressive summers in Pakistan (where the temperature climbed, in one city, to over 127 degrees in May 2010), it's good enough for Kansas City, too.