Limonana is the national drink of Israel. Come summertime (which it is already here - yesterday hit 101F down here in the desert!) this is all anyone drinks. It's also sold year round as soda and juice flavors. Here it is definitely a fountain soda.
Considering how ubiquitous the beverage is in Israel, and how simple and delicious it is, I can't believe it isn't more popular worldwide. It is just sweetened lemonade with mint sprigs, and often it is blended with ice to make a frothy bright green drink. For my version, I use mint simple syrup and add seltzer for a bubbly, possibly even more refreshing, rendition. We have a seltzer maker, but of course store bought seltzer is just fine. For a grown-up version add gin and you'll have one of my favorite cocktails, the Southside.
The mint syrup recipe below makes much more than you need for this one drink, but I love having it in my fridge. It's a great addition to cocktails and other drinks like this limonana. You could also easily halve the syrup recipe. As long as you keep the 1:1 ratio of sugar:water you'll be good. - kmartinelli —kmartinelli
Test Kitchen Notes
On a hot summer day, a sip of this sparkling drink is like an answer to ones prayers. The steps detailed in the recipe are meticulous. The mint leaves steeping in the warm simple syrup emit an aroma that fills the kitchen, literally like a cool breath of fresh air. When combined with the freshly squeezed lemon juice and chilled seltzer, the drink is sheer bliss. An instantly cooling flavor of mint permeates the nostrils and marries perfectly with the citrusy tartness of the lemon. I tried it with both lemon and lime and could not decide which was better! - Panfusine —Panfusine
Combine the water and sugar in a small pot and simmer until the sugar is fully dissolved, stirring frequently.
Remove from the heat and stir in the mint. Allow to steep for about 15 minutes. Remove the mint or strain through a mesh sieve and allow to cool to room temperature. Store in a sealed glass jar or bottle for up to 1 month in the refrigerator.
The Israeli Summer, aka Sparkling Limonana
In a glass combine the lemon juice and mint simple syrup. Stir to combine. Top with seltzer (I used a small glass and so used about 1 ounce to top, but you can add more seltzer for an even lighter drink). Garnish with mint leaves and serve immediately.
A native New Yorker, I recently moved to Be'er Sheva, Israel with my husband while he completes medical school. I am a freelance food and travel writer and photographer who is always hungry and reads cookbooks in bed.