When the weather begins to heat up, many of us reach for a tall glass of ice-cold lemonade to cool off.

Italian limonata (lemonade) requires only a few simple ingredients of lemon juice, sugar, water and basil. I like the crisp clean taste that the basil brings to this summertime favorite.

This recipe is not too tart and not too tangy, but you can always adjust the proportions to your liking.

For a sweet garnish, add a Sugared Lemon Slice to this refreshing drink.

By using the same recipe (but a different method) you can enjoy a frozen Limonata. And on those occasions when only a cocktail will do, try my Limoncello Limonata (recipe below).

Now all you need to enjoy this restorative drink, “Italian-style,” is a few precious moments to riposare, riflettere and ringiovanire (rest, reflect and rejuvinate).



  • 1 cup fresh basil, loosely packed
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 cup lemon juice, freshly squeezed
  • 1 cup cold water
  1. In a small saucepan, prepare a simple syrup by combining basil, sugar and water. Simmer until the sugar is dissolved (about 5 minutes). Remove from heat, let cool.
  2. After the mixture has cooled, remove the basil and transfer to another container. Store the simple syrup in the refrigerator. (Keeps for several weeks).

To Prepare the Limonata:

Mix the lemon juice with the simple syrup and cold water. Refrigerate until ready to use.
To serve, fill 2-3 glasses with ice, pour in Limonata and garnish with a Sugared Lemon Slice and fresh basil.


To Prepare frozen Limonata:


Prepare the recipe above in a blender, add ice cubes (about 3 cups) and blend until frothy.

For grown-up Limonata, add Limoncello.

Sugared Lemon Slices
Lemon-Aid (Tips for buying, storing, using)