Vodka Lemonade

published May 24, 2022
Vodka Lemonade Recipe

A splash of basil simple syrup makes this refreshing cocktail stand out.

Makes1 cocktail

Prep5 minutes

Cook6 minutes

Jump to Recipe
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a mason jar with vodka lemonade, with a round slice of lemon floating in the middle, a sprig of mint and a metal straw
Credit: Tara Holland

Nothing quite gets me excited for long-awaited sunnier weather than a refreshing cocktail. This vodka lemonade recipe features an optional dash of basil simple syrup to elevate and brighten the cocktail and offset the lemonade’s acidity. You’ll make more syrup than is needed for this recipe, but you can use the leftover syrup for making additional cocktails, drizzling over strawberries or sorbet, or even glazing meats or fish before grilling. 

What Type of Vodka Is Best for Vodka Lemonade?

Vodka lemonade has very few ingredients, and because vodka is the star of the show, it is essential to use a good-quality brand — this is an occasion where the bottom shelf just isn’t going to cut it! Most people have a favorite vodka, but I’ve honestly never looked back after trying the award-winning Texan vodka Tito’s while visiting Austin six years ago. This may sound like a sponsored by Tito’s ad, but it isn’t. I am just a Tito’s fangirl. It’s got a clean flavor without that rocket-fuel aftertaste that some vodkas and liquors can have. It’s also one of few vodkas that is certified gluten-free.

What Type of Lemonade Is Best for Vodka Lemonade?

Homemade lemonade is hard to beat and there are many methods to make it, but if you are strapped for time (or lemons!), using a good-quality store-bought lemonade will more than suffice. There are many brands and varieties, but if you are trying to find the closest to homemade, check that the label doesn’t have corn syrup or high-fructose corn syrup in the ingredients. As this recipe has an optional basil simple syrup, you may need to adjust accordingly depending on how sweet or sour your lemonade is. I have suggested adding an additional squeeze of lemon at the end if you are using an overly sweet store-bought brand. 

Credit: Tara Holland

What’s the Vodka-to-Lemonade Ratio?

As my friend Patrick Bolger (a mixologist at Monk McGinn’s in Manhattan) confirmed, there is no hard-and-fast ratio rule with vodka lemonade, as it really depends on the sugar-to-water content in the lemonade. Still, it’s usually around a 1:3 ratio for vodka and regular mixers — 1 part vodka to 3 parts mixer. If you would like this vodka lemonade a little stronger or weaker, simply adjust the measurements to taste. 

How to Garnish Vodka Lemonade 

The most traditional garnish for vodka lemonade is a sprig of fresh mint and a lemon wheel or wedge. Here I swapped the mint for basil to complement the basil simple syrup.

Vodka Lemonade Recipe

A splash of basil simple syrup makes this refreshing cocktail stand out.

Prep time 5 minutes

Cook time 6 minutes

Makes 1 cocktail

Nutritional Info


For the basil simple syrup: (optional)

  • 1/2 large bunch

    fresh basil

  • 1/2 cup

    granulated sugar

  • 1/2 cup


  • 1/8 teaspoon

    kosher salt

For the cocktail:

  • 1/2

    medium lemon

  • 6 ounces

    store-bought or homemade lemonade (3/4 cup)

  • 2 ounces

    vodka (1/4 cup), such as Tito's

  • 1 to 2 tablespoons

    Basil Simple Syrup (optional)

  • Ice

  • 1 sprig

    fresh basil


Make the basil simple syrup: (optional)

  1. Coarsely chop the leaves and stems from1/2 large bunch basil leaves until you have 3/4 packed cup. Place in a small saucepan and add 1/2 cup granulated sugar and 1/2 cup water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally until the sugar dissolves. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until the syrup thickens slightly, about 6 minutes.

  2. Remove the saucepan from the heat. Let steep and cool for 1 hour. Pour through a fine-mesh strainer set over a bowl and use the back of a spoon to press on the solids to extract as much as you can. Discard the solids. Add 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt to the syrup and stir until dissolved. Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks.

Make the cocktail:

  1. Cut 1 round from 1/2 medium lemon; reserve the remaining lemon.

  2. Place 6 ounces lemonade, 2 ounces vodka, and 1 to 2 tablespoons Basil Simple Syrup if desired in a pint jar or large tall glass and stir to combine. Fill the glass with ice. Taste and add an additional squeeze from the reserved lemon if needed. Garnish with the lemon round and 1 fresh basil sprig.