To make old-fashioned lemonade, combine 6 cups water, 2 cups lemon juice, and 1 cup sugar in a large pitcher. Stir the mixture until the sugar dissolves, and refrigerate until serving. Alternatively, first combine 1 cup sugar with 1 cup hot water. Mix until the sugar dissolves, then combine the sugar water with the remaining water and lemon juice. Serve lemonade over ice, and garnish with a slice of lemon or a sprig of mint if desired.
Lemonade has been a popular drink worldwide for many centuries. Mediterranean and Egyptian texts dating from the 13th century first mentioned it, and it had become popular in Europe by the mid-16th century. European immigrants brought lemonade to the United States, and it quickly became a popular drink, both for Gold Rush-era miners hoping to ward off scurvy and for Victorian-era prohibitionists looking for a festive alternative to alcoholic drinks.
While the basic recipe for old-fashioned lemonade is simple, home cooks can easily substitute or add ingredients to make a more unique beverage. Europeans often substitute sparkling water for still water when making lemonade. Others add sliced kiwi, frozen melon balls and other fruits to pre-made lemonade or substitute some of the water in the recipe with flavored teas or juices.