When I arrived to Budapest at the beginning of April, it was 11 degrees C. My Airbnb host Tamás showed me the air conditioner in the apartment, but we laughed at the idea of using it. I was sure I’d be long gone before scorching heat arrived to Budapest.

Two weeks later the temperature spiked to 28 degrees C. My laptop was overheating. I texted Tamás to ask how to turn on the air conditioner. Working at home was comfortable again, but outside I felt parched all the time. It was in this hour of need that I discovered Budapest’s delightful lemonades.

At home, “lemonade” means a glass of tap water mixed with lemon juice. In Budapest, it means business. Almost every cafe and restaurant serves lemon- and orange-based drinks with a myriad of extras: elderflower, mango, passion fruit and lavender syrups, berries, mint leaves, cucumber …

You can choose plain or sparkling water; and servings are not a measly 2-3 deciliters, but 5 or even 7 (that’s 24 oz for my US readers).

These are my favorite lemonades:

At Ahoy Chocolate & Lemonade Bar (Papnövelde utca 3), the thirstiest can feast on giant lemonades served in plastic buckets. I’m pretty sure Beyoncé named her album after these.

The popular Két Szerecsen restaurant (Nagymező utca 14) offers the most sophisticated basil elderflower lemonade. They also do one with passion fruit syrup and pineapple chunks that sounds extremely promising.

Desszert.Neked (Paulay Ede utca 17) boasts a strawberry and basil lemonade that goes superb with their French desserts.

After visiting Fisherman’s Bastion, stop at the legendary Ruszwurm confectionery (Szentháromság utca 7) and choose between lemonades in several happy colors.

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