Sparkling Strawberry Lemonade

makes about 7 1/2 cups (without vodka)

1 cup water 

1 cup granulated sugar 

3 strips (3 1/2 x 1 1/2 inches) of lemon peel, no white pith

1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice 

1 pint (12 ounces) fresh strawberries, hulled and halved 

3 cups cold sparkling water 

Lemon wedges for garnish

Alcoholic version

Add up to 1 cup of vodka to taste

In a medium saucepan bring the water, sugar, and lemon peel to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sugar dissolves. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool completely, remove lemon peel. 

Meanwhile, in a blender puree the strawberries and lemon juice.  Strain the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve, pressing on the solids.  Pour the strawberry puree and cooled lemon syrup into a pitcher. Stir well to combine and refrigerate until well chilled. 

When ready to serve, add the sparkling water and vodka if using, and stir well. Pour into glasses filled with ice, garnish with lemon wedges and serve.  Enjoy!

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