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Citizens, Winter may still be upon us in the Northern Hemisphere, but my Southern Hemisphere readers are in the full throes of enjoying Summer! This fantastically refreshing recipe is a perfect Summer drink to enjoy now (for them) or later (for us).

Limonana is a type of blended lemonade made from freshly-squeezed lemon juice and spearmint leaves that is a popular summer drink in Egypt, Israel, Cyprus, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria.

Limonana is a portmanteau of the Arabic and Hebrew words limon (Arabic: ليمون‎‎, Hebrew: לימון‎‎, meaning lemon) and nana (Arabic: نعناع‎‎, Hebrew: נענע‎‎, meaning mint), referring to its two main ingredients, freshly-squeezed lemon juice and spearmint leaves.

Limonana may have originated in Syria or Turkey. In Israel, the name came from an advertising campaign conducted in the early 1990s. At that time, public-bus advertising was in its infancy in Israel.

The Fogel Levin advertising agency undertook a bus-only campaign to prove the effectiveness of this new medium. Fogel Levin advertised a soft drink called Limonana and printed its ads through the Galgalei Zahav (Wheels of Gold) company.

The ads, describing the drink as a blend of lemon and mint, reported, “Rabinowitz drinks Limonana” and, “Ohana drinks Limonana”, referring to celebrities of the time. The ad campaign created a buzz and consumers flocked to stores and kiosks to try the new flavor. Two weeks into the campaign, with consumers and stores clamoring for the product, the advertising agency admitted that no such drink existed.

Spurred by customer demand, first restaurants and then soft drink manufacturers began to produce the flavor combination. Limonana can be prepared as a lemonade, a smoothie, and a slush. TFD is especially fond of the slushy variant and offers his own interpretive spin on the classic recipe.

My tweaks include a touch of Turbinado sugar to better harmonize the ingredients, the use of Meyer lemons for a more complex flavor and takes a cue from the Syrian version of the drink to include a drop or two of orange flower water. My further eccentricity of a single drop of rosewater essence completes the drink for me personally, but may be omitted.

Battle on – The Generalissimo

The Hirshon Israeli Limonana Frozen Mint Lemonade – לימונענע‎‎ and ليمون نعناع

  • 5 tablespoons white sugar + 1 tablespoon Turbinado sugar (Sugar in the Raw) – TFD prefers his version, but the original recipe used 6 tablespoons of regular sugar
  • ½ cup plus 6 tablespoons bottled water, divided
  • ½ cup fresh lemon juice (TFD actually prefers Meyer Lemon juice for this recipe as it is more complex and less tart than standard lemon juice, but go with your preference)
  • 4 stems worth of fresh spearmint leaves (about 40 leaves, which is about 2 g) with the stems discarded, plus a few extra sprigs for garnish if desired
  • 18 ice cubes
  • 2 drops orange blossom water (Cortas brand preferred)
  • 1 drop rosewater (optional - Cortas brand preferred)

  1. Add the sugar and 6 tablespoons of water to a small saucepan; heat over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the sugar is dissolved. Cool to room temperature.
  2. Add the cooled sugar syrup, remaining ½ cup water, lemon juice, mint leaves, ice cubes, orange blossom water, rosewater (if using) to a blender. Pulse a few times to break up the ice and then process until slushy.
  3. Pour into 2 tall glasses, garnish with mint leaves if desired, and serve immediately.