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I don’t know about you, but now and then I kind of regret developing high standards. I can still enjoy movies that fall into the so-bad-they’re-good category (I’m looking at you, “Con Air”), but it has become harder with food and drink.

Nowhere is this more the case than with summer lemonade, which these days I typically feel morally and gastronomically compelled to make the old-school way: juicing the bright yellow fruit by the dozens, a fragrant but messy and time-consuming process.

But once upon a time, I was ecstatic about powdered Country Time Lemonade mix. It was so easy to make: scoop of mix, add water, add ice if you have time. And so sweet.

Today I want lemonade that’s bright and tart, followed by some sweetness. I want to taste real lemon.

And occasionally I want to bedazzle my lemonade with booze. But when I am incorporating alcohol, I don’t want its flavor to obscure the refreshing, sweetly sour blast that makes lemonade (or limeade) so great for the steamy season.

I won’t go so far as to recommend that you turn back the culinary clock and turn to powdered lemonade. But neither will I drink-shame you into making lemonade from scratch if you don’t have the time or inclination. Limes especially can be stingy little suckers, reluctant to give up their juice, and when you’re trying to batch up a boozy limeade for a big neighborhood cookout, juicing enough of them to satisfy your slavering hordes takes a while.

Thankfully, these days there are acceptable grocery store options that will make good drinks, though sometimes they’ll benefit from a little balancing out with a boost of fresh-squeezed juice. Look for refrigerated juices, which are more likely to have real, fresh fruit in them, and check the labels for ingredients; you’re not looking for much more than fruit, sugar and water. (For the accompanying recipes, I used Newman’s Own Old Fashioned Roadside Virgin Lemonade and Simply Limeade.)

While many of these juices have real citrus in them, they can still lean pretty sweet. When I opt for store-bought varieties of lemon or limeade, I typically buy extra citrus fruits to have on hand to balance them out. Even when I don’t, they’re great to use as garnishes. Zest a little of the peel into the drink and you’ll add both color and flavor.

As mixed, the primary recipe here — Once, Twice, Three Times a Lemon — is a spiked lemonade for purists, tripling the citrus with lemonade, the Italian liqueur limoncello and citrus vodka (you can go for a decent lemon vodka like Absolut or Grey Goose, but the Buddha’s Hand Citron from Hangar 1 and the citrus vodka made by St. George are both top-notch).

As lemony as it is, it’s also the most open to adulteration: You can make minor tweaks to the spec and get lovely results. For example, if you’re making a batch for a gathering, try muddling raspberries at the bottom of the pitcher, or add a fresh herb such as thyme, lavender or basil to infuse flavors into the mix. Slice some thin wheels of cucumber into the drink. Add a spoonful or two of some other liqueur — a dry curaçao for a different citrus note, a red bitter like Campari or Aperol, or something that hits herbal or floral notes, like elderflower, yellow Chartreuse or génépy (an herbal liqueur). Keep in mind that any addition of sweetness may require additional lemon to balance it out. You can fiddle with the base spirit, too, swapping out the vodka for a citrusy gin such as Tanqueray 10 or Malfy, or a spicy option like Bombay Sapphire East.

The other two variations here go in different directions. Summer in Padua incorporates dry sherry to bring in a different kind of acidity and an almost salty note, but sweetens the mix with bittersweet orangy Aperol and slices of strawberry (you’ll want to nosh on the berries after they’ve been sitting in this brew for a while). And the Monks’ Picnic takes advantage of the terrific pairing of herbal green Chartreuse and lime in a drink that’s easy to make and light enough for sipping over an extended cookout — but tastes elegant and strange, thanks to the Chartreuse.

Both of these are about as far from that powdered stuff as you can get. In the summer heat, they’ll come to your ’ade.

Once, Twice, Three Times a Lemon

Serves 1.

Note: This is a purist’s spiked lemonade, lemony from top to bottom. If you like a bit of fizz, you could even top it with a little lemon LaCroix or lemon soda at the end. We used Newman’s Own Old Fashioned Roadside Virgin Lemonade, but make your own lemonade if you like. Regardless, it’s smart to keep some extra lemons on hand, for garnishing the drink and in case you decide you want to pump up the tartness a bit. (If you’re buying rather than making your lemonade, you may not know exactly how sweet it will be, so it’s good to have the ingredients to make adjustments.) This is also a recipe that can easily be batched into a pitcher drink, and you can also play with the recipe by making small tweaks at the end, adding other flavors such as fresh berries, a smidgen of triple sec or elderflower liqueur, or a sprig of fresh herbs, such as thyme or basil. From M. Carrie Allan.

• Ice

• 1 oz. (1/8 c.) citrus vodka

• 1 oz. (1/8 c.) limoncello

• 5 oz. (1/2 c. plus 1/8 c.) chilled lemonade

• Fresh lemon juice and sugar, as needed, optional

• Wheel slices of lemon, for garnish

Directions

Fill a Collins glass with ice.

Add the vodka, limoncello and lemonade and use a barspoon to stir the ingredients together. Taste the drink, and add a bit of lemon juice or sugar as needed. Garnish with a lemon wheel or two, twisting them over the glass as you drop them into the drink.

Nutrition information per serving:

Calories 230

Fat 0 g

Sodium 25 mg

Carbohydrates 27 g

Saturated fat 0 g

Total sugars 27 g

Protein 0 g

Cholesterol 0 mg

Dietary fiber 0 g

Monks’ Picnic

Serves 1.

Note: This refreshing summer cooler pulls from flavors of a classic cocktail called the Last Word. Any good London dry gin such as Tanqueray or Beefeater will do, but an overproof, juniper-forward gin such as Junipero or Sipsmith’s V.J.O.P. really shines here. Look for a good, tart limeade that isn’t artificially flavored, or make your own if you like. In testing, we used Simply Limeade. From M. Carrie Allan.

• Ice

• 1 oz. (1/8 c.) gin (see Note)

• 1 oz. (1/8 c.) green Chartreuse

• 5 oz. (1/2 c. plus 1/8 c.) limeade (see Note)

• Pinch of salt, optional

• Wheel slices of lime, for garnish

Directions

Fill a Collins glass three-quarters full with ice.

Add the gin, Chartreuse, limeade and pinch of salt, if desired. Use a barspoon to stir the drink, then add the lime wheel garnish, giving it a little twist above the drink right before you drop it into the glass.

Nutrition information per serving:

Calories 250

Fat 0 g

Sodium 20 mg

Carbohydrates 32 g

Saturated fat 0 g

Total sugars 32 g

Protein 0 g

Cholesterol 0 mg

Dietary fiber 0 g

Summer in Padua

Serves 1.

Note: Named for the town in Italy where Aperol originated, this drink gets its brightness from both lemonade and fino sherry, which adds a rich back-note to the palate. Aperol brings in bittersweet orange notes. We used Newman’s Own Old Fashioned Roadside Virgin Lemonade, but you can use homemade lemonade instead. This can easily be scaled up to fill a pitcher as well — just multiply the ingredients for the number of servings you want, and add the citrus wheels to the pitcher; they’ll infuse a bit of flavor into the drink as it sits. From M. Carrie Allan.

• Ice

• 2 strawberries, cleaned, hulled and cut into slices from top to bottom

• Wheel slices of lemon, for garnish

• 4 oz. (1/2 c.) lemonade (see Note)

• 2 oz. (1/4 c.) fino sherry

• 1 1/2 oz. (3 tbsp.) Aperol

Directions

Add a few ice cubes, the slices of strawberry and a wheel of citrus to a large goblet or wine glass.

Fill a mixing glass with ice. Add the lemonade, sherry and Aperol; stir briefly to blend. Strain into the goblet or wine glass.

Nutrition information per serving:

Calories 270

Fat 0 g

Sodium 20 mg

Carbohydrates 32 g

Saturated fat 0 g

Total sugars 40 g

Protein 0 g

Cholesterol 0 mg

Dietary fiber 0 g