This Opinion article is part of a Narcity Media series. The views expressed are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Narcity Media.
With the summer heat ramping up, you're probably looking for a way to help you cool down, refresh, and stay hydrated. And what drink does all three better than some lemonade?
But where can you get the best lemonade in Canada?
While nothing hits quite the same as a cup of homemade lemonade on your grandma's porch on a hot summer's day, there's a good chance you'll be looking for the nearest chain to you when you can't get that.
And so, to figure out the best places for you to get your sweet fix of refreshing lemonade, I tried the sweet and tart drinks from three of Canada's most famous drink chains — Tim Hortons, Starbucks, and McDonald's.
Of these three, I think there was a pretty clear winner. However, I was actually amazed by one and its quality. Suffice it to say, it was a close match.
I picked these three chains and not any others because I feel these are the places that have the most locations across Canada and are the go-to places for many Canadians for a coffee, cold drink or more in the world of chain restaurants.
Of course, the best lemonade probably won't be the one you get from one of these places. However, if it's a hot day and you're out and about, that chain lemonade will be a lifesaver — At least if you opt for one of these.
Here's how the taste test played out and which one I think is worth the visit.
A McDonald's Lemon Splash.
In previous taste tests, McDonald's has often come out on top, such as with their breakfast sandwiches and coffee. However, their classic lemonade does not have the same effect on me.
Going into my local McDonald's, I ordered myself a small lemonade, which is technically called a "Lemon Splash" at the Golden Arches.
When I took a sip, the first thing I noticed was how strong this lemonade was.
Of all of the drinks that I tried, it was definitely the most sweet and the most tart. The first sip instantly made my face scrunch up from the blast of sour and sweet.
That being said, it was still a pretty refreshing drink, with a significant amount of ice which withstood the 10-minute walk home in the humid Toronto heat.
Maybe if I had allowed the ice to melt a bit more, I would have found it all the more palatable, but I think if I had drank this whole thing, I would have felt too sugar-ed out.
Of course, if that's what you like, this would honestly probably be your favourite of the three drinks here, but I'm someone who likes his drinks to be less so on the sweet side. For context, I only ever drink my coffee black.
The Tim Hortons Classic Lemonade.
Again, I went in with a bit of a preconceived notion of what a Tim Hortons drink is.
I often find the drinks, whether it be coffee, cold drinks or an Iced Cap, to be quite, to borrow a phrase, mid. Few amazing things and a few really bad things.
So, when I ordered a "Classic Lemonade," I was expecting it to be my least favourite. But! It actually really surprised me.
The first thing I noticed was that this was among the more refreshing of the drinks I tried. There was just enough sweetness and tartness to make it fun, but it didn't hit you over the head with it.
However, in the interest of full transparency, this less intense flavour may have resulted from the ice melting much quicker than in all the other drinks.
By the time I got home, about 15 minutes after I ordered it, the drink was almost devoid of ice. And while I actually liked how that affected the flavour, I would realistically see how it would be perceived as "watery" by those who want a little more zip.
But, as a boring man in his 20s, I was surprised by how much I liked this one.
The Starbucks Lemonade.
Unfortunately, you could probably guess this is among the best drinks you can get in Starbucks.
While I'm by no means a major Starbucks stan, I mean, I rated their coffee relatively low when I did my review, but when it comes to mixed, ice and more complex drinks, they are among the best in the game.
When I first gave this a sip, the first thing I noticed was how perfectly balanced the lemon, sugar and water were. It still tasted like a fun little indulgence but wasn't at all heavy or too sweet.
Part of what helped was that this drink was well-iced, a crucial part of the lemonade experience. Each sip was nice and cool. It held up in the heat as I drank it on a bench.
As a matter of fact, this was the drink that was the easiest to take down. And unlike the others, I basically drank this whole thing by myself. It was really, really pleasant.
Of course, it's also the most expensive drink on this list, which doesn't come as a shock because often you're paying the highest price at Starbucks. So, if you're trying to sip on a budget, this might not be the one for you.
And while I'm not the biggest lemonade fan, I honestly could see myself grabbing this on a hot day again when I'm not feeling like an iced coffee or something like that.
So, hopefully, with this run down, you can go out and enjoy some cool, refreshing drinks.
I should also add that none of these were by any means bad. While I have my preference, it all comes down to personal opinion and if you're looking for more of a sweet treat, you have a different palate than my own.
Either way, I hope this can inform your summer sipping plans, whether it be on a road trip, a walk in the neighbourhood or a nice, chill hang in the park.
Happy summer, Canada!