…you squeeze them into water, then add mint and sugar. Or at least that’s what you do if you’re Véronique Perez, the creator of Toronto’s newest drink craze.
Bottles of Limonana suddenly seem to be all over town. They’ve popped up at cafés, restaurants (Little Portugal’s trendy new Quinta, for one), and grocers like Pusateri’s, McEwan, Whole Foods, and in the St. Lawrence Market. Little do people know that the brew is actually the creation of Véronique Perez, owner of Yorkville fixture Crêpes à GoGo.
Mint leaves, lemon, sugarcane juice, and water: These are the only ingredients in Limonana, a concoction that Perez began making in small batches to serve at her restaurant in 2006. Perez, whose background is Israeli and Moroccan, likens it to Middle Eastern mint tea and calls it “an alternative to water,” rather than lemonade. You can drink it hot or cold. Customers liked it so much that they brought in empty bottles for Perez to fill, and soon other business owners were asking if they could sell it.
“I didn’t hire a marketing company or a distributor. I was focused on my café and I did this on the side,” says Perez. “People talked about it, put it on their website, took pictures of it, and came to the store saying they wanted it. It grew like that. They’d take two or three cases, and now we’re selling them by the skid.”
In 2006, 10,000 litres of the drink were manufactured at a Mississauga plant using Perez’s original recipe. Each litre of water has two handfuls of mint leaves, which are brewed for two days, then combined with the juice of two lemons and a bit of sugarcane juice to offset the tartness. Demand has grown, and this year she’ll produce 40,000 litres of the stuff and is determined to enter the Japanese market.
To find out where to buy Limonana, visit drinklimonana.com.