I grab a friend and drag him along to the ballpark, home of vendor Marc Rosenberg, the Lemonade Shaking Guy. At the game's 12:30 p.m. start time, the thermometer may say 92 degrees, but in the stands, in the sun, it's at least 110. We prowl around for a while, but no Rosenberg.
The thirstier and hotter we get, the more I doubt his gyrations really make the lemonade taste better.
We head for what seems to be the main source for the park's lemonade: a stand on the lower concourse where two women are squeezing lemons. Alas, the cups they hand us have been sitting in the crushed ice - for who knows how long?
The lemonade is so sweet it almost seems to have the thickness of sugar syrup. I'm about to toss it but then decide a ballpark hot dog - fat, juicy and salty - will make it taste better. Sure enough, as I eat and as the ice melts, the lemonade becomes drinkable and, eventually, even mildly thirst-quenching.
Day Six 93 degrees
Waverly Farmers' Market -- $2 --
The heat wave is about over - you can feel it in the air, which is oppressive and heavy with thunderstorms not yet here. At the Waverly Farmers' Market, off 32nd Street west of Greenmount Avenue, there is a line forming in front of the Neopol Savory Smokery's stand. The people are waiting for lemonade.
At the Neopol stand, you get the ultimate in personal service. The mixologist, so to speak, asks whether you want your lemonade sweet, sour or in between. He's making the drinks as fast as he can, and he uses 1 1/2 lemons, so they have lots of flavor. He lets customers have a taste to make sure it's OK before he pours the whole cup.
It isn't quite the intense lemon experience that the Earth's Essence lemonade was, but for the price and the flavor, this lemonade would be hard to beat.
Day Seven 91 degrees
Kasbah Cafe -- $1.50 --
I decided to taper off lemonade when the weather broke. After all, that's a lot of empty calories (well over 100) to take in on a regular basis. But now the heat and humidity are creeping up again, and I never did get to a place another foodie at work told me about, the Kasbah Cafe at 726 S. Broadway in Fells Point.
This place is cute as a button - an ice cream and pastry shop that sells a few Middle Eastern specialties along with popcorn, candy and, yes, lemonade. I'm suspicious because a container with a spigot on the counter is marked "lemonade," but the owner assures me it's just sugar water. He squeezes the lemon fresh when you order one.
It's a little weaker and sweeter than I like my lemonade, but it's definitely fresh. Given the price, I have to award it three stars.
Besides, the people here couldn't be nicer.
Fair or uneven:
Hottest Summer of the Millennium Lemonade
Just in case you want to make your own, here's my recipe. Use plenty of ice.
1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
3/4 cup superfine sugar (more or less to taste)
1 quart water (sometimes I use club soda)
freshly made ice cubes
6 lemon slices
Mix together the lemon juice and sugar until dissolved. Add water. Pour over ice and decorate with a lemon slice and mint.
Per serving: 107 calories, trace protein, 0 grams fat, 0 grams saturated fat, 29 grams carbohydrate, trace fiber, 0 milligrams cholesterol, trace sodium