- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 9, 2001

When the weather was warm, and his father was in a particularly jovial frame of mind, the girls made lemonade, which was always brought out in a red-glass pitcher, ornamented with forget-me-nots in blue enamel. This the girls thought very fine, and the neighbors always joked about the suspicious color of the pitcher.
— Wila Cather, "Paul's Case"

''If life gives you lemons, make lemonade," so the saying goes. But these days, if you are looking for lemonade, you may be better off settling for the lemons. Between artificially flavored powders and sticky-sweet concentrate, it can be hard to find a good glass of lemonade. Even the neighborhood lemonade stand, once a childhood mainstay, has given way to projects more remunerative, like washing cars, mowing lawns, or even babysitting.
"Mostly I just drink the powdered stuff," says Harrison Miller, 15, sipping a real lemonade at Rocklands Barbecue on Wisconsin Avenue, just below Calvert Street. "I'm not really used to the taste of real lemonade."
That's too bad, because a good glass of lemonade can be as much about memory as it is about the perfect balance of tart and sweet. A good glass of lemonade conjures up images of banging screen doors or quiet moments on the porch swing, all of them contained within a single sip of water and sugar and lemon.

"I think a self-swinging hammock, under an apple tree, with a never-emptying pitcher of ice-cold lemonade would be about the thing."
Victor Appleton, 'Tom Swift and His Aerial Warship'

But fear not. Lemonade, as Willa Cather and Mark Twain and Edgar Lee Masters knew it, lives on. Places like Rocklands, famous for their barbecue, often serve lemonade to complement the tanginess of their meats.
Rocklands sets out a big urn of the stuff every day. Seconds are on the house. There's something about lemonade that seems to equate with hospitality.
"It kind of reminds me of being in my backyard and the neighbors would come over," says Harrison, settling himself in at Rocklands' long communal dining table. "We'd just sit around and talk and drink lemonade. That was back when I was a kid, though."
Teenagers are not the only ones with long lemonade memories, it seems. Adults like to remember their own lazy days of summer, especially if you judge by the amount of the stuff consumed at Rocklands. And at Maggiano's Restaurant, a large establishment tucked away behind a bakery in the District's Friendship Heights neighborhood, manager Rusty Grimm is banking on those summer memories.
"We want to be seen as part of the neighborhood," says Mr. Grimm, who opened Maggiano's free lemonade stand on June 1. "The lemonade stand is a good way of letting folks in the neighborhood know we're here."

… And the lemonade stands were running
And the band was playing …

Edgar Lee Masters, 'Spoon River Anthology'

Weekdays at Maggiano's finds Carolina Flores standing on the sidewalk in front of the restaurant handing out free glasses of lemonade from the custom built stand. This is no slapdash undertaking, but an edifice worthy of the Maggiano's ambience, echoing the dark woods and striped awnings of the restaurant itself.
"My goal is to give away 15,000 cups of lemonade this summer," Mr. Grimm says. "We're already close to 10,000."
Clearly, this is real lemonade. Prepared several times a day by executive chef Manuel Duron or one of his assistants, this lemonade uses whole lemons, ground to a pulp inside a massive food processor called a Robocoup. The result is strained, mixed with a sugar syrup, diluted with filtered water and trundled out several times during Miss Flores' 11 a.m.-to-3 p.m. stint.
In fact, the reputation of Maggiano's lemonade is such that nearby office workers plan their breaks accordingly.
"I try to stop by every day," says Dale Wilson, a Federal Express driver who stops by on his rounds. "It's a great lemonade not too sweet and not too bitter."
And no one seems disinclined to ask for seconds.
"This is so good," says Matti Block, sipping on her second Maggiano's lemonade. "I don't even care about the calories."

… By the cot in the hospital reaching lemonade to a fevrerish patient …
Walt Whitman, 'Song of Myself'

The Crusaders encountered lemons in Asia and Palestine and brought them back with them to western Europe. It's said that Christopher Columbus enjoyed a glass of lemonade when chatting with Queen Isabella about his upcoming voyage. And during the 19th century, lemonade sometimes mixed with rum or a diluted version called grog became a staple beverage for British sailors attempting to ward off scurvy. Between 1795 and 1815, sailors consumed 1.6 million gallons of the stuff.
Incidentally, when limes from the West Indies became prevalent in the mid-19th century, the British Admiralty thought that these would be a less costly substitute for lemons. Limeade proved not so popular with the British tars, who liked neither the smell nor the taste, and not nearly as effective in warding off scurvy. The only thing that stuck from the unfortunate episode was the nickname given by American sailors to their British counterparts limeys.
During the American Civil War, nurses served lemonade to their patients. Later, Lucy Webb Hayes, wife of 19th president Rutherford B. Hayes, earned the sobriquet "Lemonade Lucy" after she banned spirits from the White House.

… Beth took off her dusty boots, and Amy made lemonade for the refreshment of the whole party.
Louisa May Alcott, 'Little Women'

Despite its history, most of us still associate lemonade with the neighborhood lemonade stand. While most of today's youngsters would rather spend their afternoons on the Internet, you can still catch a few young entrepreneurs setting up shop on a street corner.
In Aldie, Va., Lilly Withers has taken the lemonade stand concept one step further. This enterprising 11-year-old began selling Lilly's Lemonade way back when she was 7.
"We wanted each of our children to have their own business," explains her father, Tucker Withers. "Then we put the money into their college funds."
Lilly's brother Calder, now 14, has been selling tomatoes at the end of their driveway cattycorner across from Aldie's Little River Inn, a historic hostelry now owned by their parents, Tucker and Mary Ann Withers. Younger sister Gracie, 9, makes Gracie's Greeting Cards, complete with original artwork, available at Mercer's Tavern Antiques, owned by Mrs. Withers.
Lilly's Lemonade is served to guests at the Little River Inn and is available for purchase at Mercer's Tavern Antiques. Folks who have tried it tend to come back for a case.

There was sheds made out of poles and roofed over with branches, where they had lemonade and gingerbread to sell, and piles of watermelons and green corn and such-like truck.
Mark Twain, 'The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn'

Most of the time, though, Lilly's Lemonade is available to passers by on the honor system. She puts out the lemonade, and they leave the money.
"We do a lot on the honor system," says her mother. "Calder sells his tomatoes the same way."
Of course, Lilly has strong roots in the lemonade business. Her father ran several lemonade stands in Bethesda in the mid-1970s as Tucker and Company, a business that also rented out the carts to many area caterers.
At the Withers home, making Lilly's Lemonade is a family affair. Lilly likes putting the labels, which feature her likeness, on the bottles. Gracie helps with the squeezing. Mrs. Withers wields the knife, and Mr. Withers stirs the brew, a special mixture of lemon juice, lemon rind, spring water and sugar.
It takes a while to cook, and it can take a while to drink.
"Aldie is the kind of town where everybody knows everybody," Mrs. Withers says. "People take their time here. You can run over to the post office and spend half an hour in there talking to people."

[A]nd with the two kinds of ice cream made by Dinah and Martha, besides the cookies and jumbles Aunt Sarah supplied, with ice-cold lemonade that John passed around, surely the tired little soldiers and cadets had splendid refreshment!
Laura Lee Hope, 'The Bobbsey Twins in the Country'

That's one of the nice things about lemonade. It slows you down. At the Kalorama Guest House, a European-style pension in Adams Morgan, the staff sets out lemonade and sherry to welcome weary travelers.
"I've never had anything like this," says Helen Moorland, sipping on a glass in the Victorian mansion's front parlor after the long flight from Manchester, England. "It's really refreshing."
Opened 19 years ago with locations on Mintwood Place and Kalorama Road, the Kalorama guest house, a showpiece of three townhouses with 30 available rooms, attempts to recapture a slower, 19th century ambience in the heart of the city. Its rooms and suites are furnished with period pieces picked up at estate sales. Classical music wafts gently through the halls. And the windows, high and wide, are covered with lace.
The front parlor serves as a focal point for all this atmosphere. Over a glass of lemonade, visitors from near and far exchange views of the city, pointers about restaurants, or make plans for a museum date. It's a common area in an uncommon setting.
"This is so nice to come in to," says Amy Rhodes, here on business from Philadelphia. "It seems so civilized."
Now the folks at the Kalorama Guest House are the first to admit that their lemonade comes from a mix. But in these surroundings, with high ceilings, working fireplaces, and a high Victorian ambience, it almost doesn't matter.

Dorothy sat down and opened her tin dinner-pail. In the cover she found a small tank that was full of very nice lemonade.
L. Frank Baum, 'Ozma of Oz'

Still, the proper preparation itself can be a subject for debate. Should you make a sugar syrup? What is the correct proportion of lemon juice to water? Some people favor heating the lemons a bit before squeezing them. Others like to slice the lemons thinly, then mash them together with the sugar with the back of a spoon before adding water. Still others are careful to strain every bit of pulp and skin out of the mixture before serving.
"It's all a matter of taste," says Francois Dionot, owner, founder and director of L'Academie de Cuisine in Bethesda and Gaithersburg. "But personally I wouldn't cook the water and the lemons. Cooking takes out all of the oxygen."
Chef Dionot recommends adding a touch of sea salt and perhaps a bit of lemon zest to bring out the flavor of the lemon juice and sugar.
"Not enough for you to taste," he cautions. "Just enough to bring out the flavor. Then you have the perfect combination of sweet, sour, bitter, and salt."

'I wonder,' said Trot, going up to the woman, 'if you could spare us something to eat. We haven't had anything but popcorn and lemonade for a long time.'
L. Frank Baum, 'The Scarecrow of Oz'

For people who like to keep it simple, shake-up lemonade, sold from the back of carts at everything from folk festivals to antique shows, is the way to go. Shake-up is a simple mixture of lemon juice, water and sugar; since it is made without cooking, the ingredients must be shaken vigorously in order to mix them. The McWhirters do this with some flair. And many swear that their concoction is well worth waiting for.
A family operation, the McWhirter business began back in 1933, when Joe Kitchen, who had lost his job during the Great Depression, cast about for something to do.
"He developed his own recipe for caramel corn and caramel apples," says his grandson, Robert McWhirter, who works for the U.S. Department of Defense when he is not selling popcorn and lemonade. "They proved so popular he went into selling those full time."
The McWhirter family Bob McWhirter, sister Kaye and brother Cal, and their assorted spouses and offspring have run the business since 1976, when they took over from their parents, Mac and Millie McWhirter. They still sell their caramel corn, made from a secret family recipe, and their lemonade from traditional Cretors carts and yes, these carts, built in 1906 and 1913, are originals, far more authentic even than the reproduction carts used to sell popcorn on the Mall in front of the Smithsonian castle.
Watch McWhirter lemonade being prepared, and you will see a whole lot of shakin' goin on. Usually, nephews Troy McWhirter and Adam Rocca, both 21, put on quite a show.
"People say it reminds them of Tom Cruise in the movie 'Cocktail,' " says Mr. McWhirter.
Whether people think the lemonade tastes so good because of all that shaking is moot. What matters is the taste, which has some folks swearing that McWhirter lemonade is the best they've ever had.
"It's just a refreshing, cooling drink," says Mr. McWhirter, who plans on going into the business full time after he retires in nine years. "There's nothing better on a hot day."

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