Traditional lemonades

Lemonade is one of the most modernized treats of Turkish culture.


Lemon was the main ingredient of sherbet in the Ottoman era and continues to be in modern Turkey as well, due to being a source of vitamins and its cool, sour taste. Numerous places now offer this traditional beverage in different flavors and presentations in summer as a refreshing drink. While there is lemonade made with chestnut honey in Adana, gingerbread lemonade can be found around İzmir. My favorite presentation and taste of lemonade in Istanbul is at Baylan Patisserie in Bebek. They soak grated fruit peels in a lemon and orange juice mixture and then blend this mixture and warm it up. This fermented beverage is mixed with water the next day and served. The artsy presentation at Baylan truly doubles the freshness of the lemonade. Another favorite lemonade of mine in Istanbul is at Zencefil restaurant. For the lemonade here, they knead lemon peels with sugar and soak them in lemon juice and then serve the lemonade with ginger and mint leaves. Famous for its diet lemonade, Plus Kitchen make lemonade with organic lemons and natural sweeteners and add lemon seed powder. Mahmut Murat, the owner of the Bal Badem Patisseries, claims that the cooling method gives the beverage its incredible flavor. He explained that they pour the lemonade into copper buckets and cool it by revolving the buckets. Another secret of their lemonade is that they use brown sugar. La Vie En Rose and Conte Ristorante also offer some of the best lemonades in town.

If you feel too lazy to go out on hot summer days in search of the perfect lemonade, I would recommend staying at home and drinking Lita lemonade. The sugar level is relatively low compared to other ready-made lemonades and does not give you a sore throat. The company broke new ground in its sector, manufacturing a glass bottle covered with a plastic outer layer they call a “campet.” I would like to compliment Rafet Doğanay for offering healthy lemonade to Turkey in a glass that is light as a plastic bottle. Moreover, they deserve our applause for sponsoring the first female Turkish mountaineer who will be climbing all the highest peaks on all the geographiccontinents in the world, Gülnur Tumbat.

Turkish sherbets are products of an older tradition. Different sherbets were offered at meals in Ottoman palaces during feast days or when a sultan’s baby was born. It was reported that these sherbets were good for health and their tastes were amazing. It is possible to find some of these sherbets at old Turkish confectioners today. Established in 1807, Şekerci (candy maker) Cafer Erol creates a difference with its sherbets in this sense. Red poppy, tamarind, red rose and cornelian are the leading sherbet recipes still used today. Sales clerks at Şekerci Cafer Erol expertly tell you the stories, benefits and meanings of all the sherbets you can buy in bottles. I have noticed that the knowledge of taste and history of the staff is quite good. While at Cafer Erol, do not forget to taste the little finger-long Kaju baklava, fruit shaped almond paste, walnut-filled semolina doughnuts and eggplant candy. I would like to congratulate the owner of the company, Mehmet Nurtekin Erol, on the quality training of the personnel and different delicacies they offer.

Last week, I took the Head of the Culture and Tourism Department of New York Municipality, Marty Markowitz, to Çeşme to introduce the town. Markowitz and I were fascinated by the port houses project in Alaçatı, not to mention the natural beauties, bays and villages. Realized by Architect François Spoerry, each and every house has its own pier in the front. There will be houses, hotels, a marina and community facilities on an area of 2.2 square kilometers. The Port Hotel included in the project has a very relaxing setting with a blue and white concept. It is obvious that this project, resembling Port Grimaud in St. Tropez, will contribute to the tourism potential of the town.

While in Alaçatı, do not forget to eat tabbouleh salad with quinoa and sea bass in curlpaper at Kapari Restaurant in the shopping center. You should have a gum coffee at Dutlu Kahve, which resembles a village coffee house. For a journey through time after coffee, Tango and Evvelzaman antique shops are good alternatives. The retro antique shop named “Pop,” where I have fallen in with Rahmi Koç, sells objects from the recent past. The Alaçatı market, where you can find local jams, plants, spices, olive oil, fresh fish, vegetables, clothes and shoes, is set up on Saturdays. There is a very good flowers and plants section in the market. The market is set among the Alaçatı houses and makes you feel like you are in a real Aegean town.

During Markowitz’s visit, we also met with Demet Sabancı Çetindoğan, the successful CEO of Demsa. She hosted us for an excellent dinner at her house, the Zarif Mustafa Pasha Mansion. She is also the founder and chairwoman of ONE Association, which conducts numerous social responsibility and publicity projects. The most topical project is introducing the relics of the world’s oldest religious site, Göbekli Tepe, in Şanlıurfa. The weight of the rocks there is more than 50 tons and the site predates the Egyptian pyramids by 7,000 years and Stonehenge in Britain by 6,000 years. I would like to congratulate Ms. Demet Sabancı Çetindoğan for putting in such effort to introducing this cultural heritage to the world. I invite those interested in history to Şanlıurfa both to visit this important place and to taste the unique delicacies of Urfa. If you ever go to Şanlıurfa, I recommend Hotel El-Ruha. The inside of the hotel is decorated with engraved stones and carved wood is used in the rooms, and even the elevator. You will absolutely love this modest looking hotel from the outside.