This homemade lemonade recipe shouldn’t be relegated to the kids’ table—it’s tart, sweet, and intensely refreshing on a hot day. Start by making a simple syrup infused with lemon zest. To get large pieces with as little pith (the bitter white part) as possible, use a sharp vegetable peeler and make sure your lemons and hands are completely dry so your grip is firm. Fresh-squeezed lemon juice is a must, so grab a juicer. To keep the tang and sweet ratios in check, add ice cubes straight to the glasses, not the pitcher, so the drink isn’t diluted.

While this fresh lemonade needs no embellishments, it’s also a versatile base for a host of summer drink recipes. Try adding two cups of frozen or fresh fruit like raspberries or peaches and an herb garnish. If you prefer a bit of sparkle, swap out half of the water in the base with club soda or seltzer. For a full-blown spritz, use only the sparkling water. Spices like sumac and star anise can also be added to the syrup-making process for something more complex. And mixing half-and-half with brewed black tea quickly turns it into an Arnold Palmer. For more ideas, check out this complete guide.

This is part of BA’s Best, a collection of our essential recipes.