Cajun Lemonade

While in San Francisco a couple of years ago, my husband and I dropped into Cantina, a funky little lounge next door to the Hotel Rex. With its lack of signage and the fact that it had only been open for a few weeks, only the locals knew about it at the time. These hidden gems are what I seek out when visiting other cities. Add to that their truly unique, inspired cocktail menu made with fresh ingredients and I was enamored. That night, the Laughing Buddha- a concoction of crushed ginger, serrano chile pepper, Hanger One Buddha’s Hand vodka and ginger brew- was the object of my affection. It had that nice little kick to it that I tend to enjoy, a little heat from the chile offset by the sweet and spicy ginger.

Always on the hunt for an exciting new cocktail, the Food & Wine 2009 Cocktail Guide never fails me when looking for inspiration. As I was flipping through the guide in search of a drink for a friend’s surprise party this weekend, I stumbled upon an entire chapter of pitcher drinks from non other than Duggan McDonnell, owner of Cantina!

This recipe using Tabasco and Pimm’s No. 1 (which has become a favorite in our house this summer) was calling my name. It was meant to be shared, but I will be honest- I was a little greedy with it. (I wasn’t purposely hiding it in the fridge indoors when all of the other cocktails were in the coolers outside. Really, I wasn’t.)

I wasn’t completely hoggish, I did at least share with the birthday boy, and he LOVED it! I also gave out a few sips to other guests and enjoyed seeing the look of surprise on people’s faces when that tickle of heat hit the back of their throat.

Cajun Lemonade


12 oz of vodka

4 oz of Pimm's No. 1

8 oz of fresh lemon juice

4 oz of simple syrup

1/2 Tbsp Tabasco


8 oz of chilled 7-Up*

Thin lemon wheels, for garnish (optional)


In a large resealable container, combine all of the ingredients except ice, 7-Up, and the lemon wheels. Refrigerate until chilled, at least 1 hour. Cover tightly and shake, then pour into an ice filled pitcher. Strain into ice-filled rocks glasses, stir in the 7-Up and garnish with lemon wheels.

For those of you who love spicy as much as I do, you might even want to sprinkle a dab of cayenne pepper in your glass. The drink definitely already has some heat, but that'll make it a scorcher!

*Note: I made just a couple of slight adjustments to the final product before serving. When I transferred the chilled lemon/vodka mixture to the pitcher, I also went ahead and added the 7 Up. After taking a sip, I determined that it was just a bit too tart for my tastes, so I added a little more 7-Up, probably about 2 or 3 more ounces.

Photo Credit: free for use by Pink Sherbet