It’s September, folks! And guess what? Summer is still squatting in my front yard like a Hell Hound on a field of broken hydrants. Ah, the joy of living in the Southeast during global warming, amirite?
Since it’s still as hot as a fire-flinging wizard out, it’s an excellent time to make something magically refreshing. I’m talking lemonade, specifically MacAnally’s lemonade from book eight of The Dresden Files series, Proven Guilty.
Click here to skip to the recipe for Mac’s Summer Lemonade.
Note: To preface, I am in the middle of my giant Dresden Files re-read. So I have not read Peace Talks yet. No spoilers, please!
A Taste of the Summer Court
Of course, I refer to the scene when Harry Dresden meets Lily and Fix, the Lady and Knight of the Summer fae court at Macanally’s Pub. Mac’s, a place I’ve referenced on more once on this blog, serves Chicago’s magical and supernatural community with tasty beer and steak sandwiches. On this incredibly hot day, though, this short-spoken tap-slinger of the same name is more than happy to serve up a couple of glasses of frosty lemonade.
Pretty standard, right? Please. Mac’s “simple” or “standard” makes ambrosia look like a damn Coors Light in comparison. Mac also knows that you shouldn’t water down your concoctions. That’s why he serves his lemonade chilled with its own frozen refill. I’m talking lemonade ice cubes, folks!
Lemonade Stand or Apothecary?
Harry Dresden brings up the importance of symbolism in magic, especially potion-making, as early as in the first book, Storm Front. It’s not so much the ingredients themselves as the power of belief behind them. I figure that Mac would incorporate symbolism into his menu for the same reasons. After all, when your clientele’s temperament is as changing than Chicago’s weather, feeding someone the wrong thing can spell catastrophe.
That’s why for this recipe, I first created an herbal simple syrup containing thyme, dill, and lavender. All three of these herbs pair wonderfully with lemon (and gin, if you’re up for a cocktail). There are also some other benefits from a folkloric and magical standpoint, other than just number three, though.
Dill, which thrives in the late spring and early summer, graced ancient Egyptian charms against sorcerers and evil spirits. This belief even went as far as the European middle ages. The ancient Greeks and Romans believed it a fortifying herb and good luck charm. Either way, it’s good to have when keeping a neutral ground for the Unseelie Accords.
Thyme I chose because thyme flowers were popular among honeybees, the messengers of the faery world in Ancient Greece. Its name comes from the Greek “thymos” meaning spirit or smoke — mostly from the practice of burning to cleanse temples and for Egyptian burial rites. Thyme aids in clearing one’s mind, allowing one to see into the Otherworld.
And now to lavender. I know, the lemon and lavender combo has been done to death. But its association with cleansing spans multiple cultures over several millennia. Mary Magdalene anointed Jesus’s feet with expensive lavender (spikenard) oil. Its calming scent is probably why modern magic-users use it for grounding energies. And grounding is crucial in a place like McAnally’s Tavern where the natural and supernatural just want to meet and drink in peace.
So whip up a pitcher or some cocktails and popsicles for some summer floral flavor. The season may be fading, but there’s no reason not to savor its memory before the approach of winter nights.
Sing for your Supper!
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The printable recipe cards and playlist for Mac’s Summer Lemonade will be available as a $2 donor reward on my Ko-Fi page until the next post goes up.
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Cool, Cool Summer
McAnally's Summer Lemonade
Equipment: Stovetop, large saucepan with lid, large herb strainer, wire whisk, gallon pitcher, tongs, and a wooden spoon. Optional: Ice cube trays and freezer.
- 1/2 cup fresh dill sprigs
- 1/2 cup fresh thyme sprigs
- 1/2 tablespoon dried lavender flowers
- 4 cups of sugar
- 1 and 1/2 cups lemon juice
- Stuff all the herbs into the strainer and place into a saucepan with 4 cups of water. Place the lid on top and bring to a rolling boil on the stovetop.
- Turn off the heat and let steep for 15 minutes.
- Remove the strainer from the pan with a pair of tongs and discard the herbs. Turn the heat back on low and pour the sugar into the pan.
- Whisk the sugar until it fully melts and remains dissolved. Turn off the heat again.
- Pour the lemon juice into the pitcher and follow it with the syrup.
- Add 10 cups of water and stir with a wooden spoon. Refrigerate until chilled and ready to serve.
Pour lemonade into ice cube trays and freeze overnight to serve without watering down your drink. You can also cube watermelon and freeze it in a single layer on freezer paper and a baking sheet to add some color and variety.
Combine this lemonade with frozen lemonade cubes, frozen watermelon cubes, 2 oz of rum, gin, or tequila, and a pinch of kosher salt. Garnish with a sprig of dill before serving.