when friends give you lemons

I have the pleasure of having a friend who has a large Meyer lemon tree in his backyard. Mind you, we were friends before I knew he had a lemon tree. In fact, we may have been friends before he bought the house with the tree. At any rate, my friend has been known to leave a shopping bag of lemons on my doorstep, and when this happens, I make things. Lemon pudding cake, limoncello, lemon curd. You get the idea. 

Sometimes it’s a battle to use all of the lemons before they go bad. Lemons that haven’t been sprayed with chemicals tend to get moldy a lot quicker.  In order not to waste one precious lemon, I usually default to making cocktails. It’s a good use of citrus, uses a ton of lemons and there’s nothing better than having ingredients for a refreshing citrus cocktail on hand.

After making my very favorite cocktail of all time, the rhubarb daiquiri, I started experimenting with rosemary simple syrup. The rosemary flavor pairs well with rhubarb, so why not with lemon. I played with ingredients and proportions, and landed on the right combo of lemon to rosemary flavor.

It’s the perfect summer drink and worth squeezing lemons for, I promise.


My kitchen notes: 

You may be tempted to buy bottled lemon juice. I did this recently for a dinner party. Don’t do it. It tastes much better with the real thing.

I like using an aromatic, slightly fruity brand of gin. I have used Aviation and Hendricks and like both for this drink.

Lemon Rosemary Cocktail 

Makes four drinks 

3 rosemary springs, plus extra for garnish

1/2 cup water

1/2 cup sugar

8 ounces gin

3 ounces rosemary simple syrup

4 ounces fresh lemon juice


1. For the rosemary simple syrup, bring water to a boil, add the sugar and rosemary, stir until the sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and steep for 45 minutes.

2. Strain the syrup through a fine mesh strainer into a container.

3. Fill pitcher or cocktail shaker with ice.

4. Add gin, lemon juice and rosemary simple syrup and stir or shake.

5. Pour into individual glasses, garnish with a rosemary sprig and enjoy.

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