The comeback of lemonades


Neither achingly sweet nor alarmingly green, the lemonades of today have exciting new flavors and are made from pure, natural ingredients.

When we were children and went to visit our Grandma, two glasses were always standing ready on the granite kitchen counter for my brother and me. Usually it was the classic Dutch lemonade known as Ranja: vividly orange in color and with a sickly-sweet flavor. Sometimes she bought grenadine. And when she bought the green stuff, we were really happy. The flavor didn’t matter—it was that crazy green hue that we just totally loved.  We never could have dreamed back then that syrup drinks would be making a big comeback 40 years 
later. Or that cool tattooed hipsters would be the ones putting this old-fashioned children’s drink back on 
the map.

Its resurgence is strong. First the syrups, lemonades and alternative soft drinks started appearing on food trucks and at music festivals, and now dozens of syrups and ready-made lemonades are available 
in local supermarkets. Known by many different names—lemonade, syrup, cordial or squash—they are being sold in small or big bottles, in pretty shapes and with beautiful labels. And now that just about every department store and supermarket has a house-brand syrup or lemonade (complete with swingtop bottle and retro label) in its range, it’s pretty clear that the trend has transcended the hipster hype.

German brand Bionade was perhaps the very first 
new-style lemonade to make it big. The makers started small, without any budget for marketing or advertising, and despite this, their lemonade quickly became a very popular underground hit. In 2002, two million bottles were sold, and in 2007 sales hit about two hundred million.

Bionade has been important for the burgeoning lemonade trend, says Paul Löhndorf, one of the founders of the German lemonade brand Proviant. Proviant now employs thirty people and distributes to nine countries: it has also become much bigger than Löhndorf ever could have imagined. It was never his intention to be a lemonade producer.

He was planning to start a café with two friends on the university campus in Berlin, but the location they had set their sights on fell through. They decided to sell the drinks that they had been inventing for the café—smoothies and lemonades—to festivals instead. And that took off like a rocket. First restaurants became their clients, then a large German organic supermarket chain asked if they could add Proviant to their product offering.

“Time after time, we would move to a larger building, but grow too big for it,” Löhndorf says. “I could also see the success all around me; in the restaurant business it used to be all about the food, 
but now you see elaborate drinks menus with specialty beers and artisanal lemonades everywhere.”

  • The complete story about the comeback of lemonades can be found in Issue 27.

Text Anneke Bots Photography Tana Teel/Stocksy United