Now's the Time to Put Your Espresso in Your Lemonade

Don't make that face at us. It is delicious.


  • 1 1/2 c. lemonade of your choice
  • 1 double shot chilled espresso


  1. Pour lemonade into a glass over ice before topping with espresso. Mix, if you're into that kind of thing.

There are some flavors that seem like they should never go together. You know, things like hot sauce and ice cream or pickles and peanut butter. But every so often, there's an outlier that defies the expectations of digestion. Some flavor combinations transcend the rules of taste, suspend the logic of gag reflexes, and find a place in our palate's heart, which is why dipping a french fry into a Frosty is so damn satisfying. This takes us to last Sunday, when I found myself in flux between needing caffeine and wanting something sweet. It just so happened that my local coffee shop in New York, Elk Cafe, was serving what it called a "Thunderbolt." The ingredients? Lemonade. And a shot of espresso.

On most days, that combo would be a hard pass, but on this Sunday in particular, I was all in for an adventure. What followed that decision was a perfect mixture of sweet, tart, and bitter. When initially served, the espresso sits atop the drink, like in an Arnold Palmer. When mixed together, it turns out that lemon and coffee make a damn fine concoction. It's hard to explain the flavor—instead of it tasting like coffee and lemonade, it really tastes like neither. Instead, it's a smoky citrus that cuts the bitterness of the bean while enhancing the tartness of the lemon.

Smoky citrus cuts the bitterness of the bean while enhancing the tartness of the lemon.

Upon some investigation, I found that the Thunderbolt has been around for a couple years, getting its start in niche coffee circles around the world. La Colombe even canned the stuff. But there's something a bit more authentic about getting your favorite lemonade (warning: don't go too sweet) and dropping a chilled double shot of espresso into it.


The Thunderbolt is the perfect way to transition away from warm weather. Before jumping ship to the apple or the even more intense hero of fall, the pumpkin, raise a glass of lemonade one last time and drop in a shot of espresso. Wake me up when September ends? Never went to sleep, fool. I'm all wired on Thunderbolts.

This story originally appeared on

* Minor edits have been made by the editors.

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About The Author
Justin Kirkland
Justin Kirkland is a writer for Esquire, where he focuses on entertainment, television, and pop culture. Prior to Esquire, his work appeared in Entertainment Weekly, Hollywood Reporter, and USA Today. He is from East Tennessee and currently lives in Brooklyn, New York.
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