Baltimore Lemon Sticks

Sweet and tangy summer suckers


Here in my hometown of Baltimore, we are very passionate about the foods that are indigenous to this area. Crab cakes, Berger cookies, pit beef sandwiches, snowballs topped with marshmallow creme….all of these foods bring out the bitchbaby in anyone that moves away from the area, and then whines that they can’t find these things anywhere else. And don’t even try to find an acceptable substitute for a big pile of Maryland steamed crabs somewhere else. Crabs steamed outside of Maryland will be more like a big steaming pile of something else.

One of the simplest and innocuous offerings from Baltimore is what we call Lemon Sticks. They are a spring and summertime treat, sold at street fairs, especially the Baltimore Flower Mart on the mean, cobblestone streets of downtown. Seriously, can streets be mean and cobblestone at the same time? Doesn’t that seem unlikely? The only meanness I have experienced on a cobblestone street is trying to cross one, after too many glasses of wine, while wearing heels. Now, that was mean.
Back to the innocuous Lemon Sticks. Basically, you take a lemon, cut it in half and insert a soft peppermint stick. The softness of the peppermint stick is imperative, because you use it as a “straw” to suck out the lemon juice, which then mingles nicely with the peppermint flavor. If in doubt, here are the type that you need.

Innocuous, a word I keep using here, makes me a little nervous. I am a born and bred Baltimoron, I mean, Baltimorean, and if there is one thing to know about Baltimore, it is that we like things a little naughty sometimes. So, I thought, why not dirty these up? Make them an adult pleasure for the sucking? Which made my thoughts turn to my favorite vice. Liquor. Liquor and sucking in one paragraph… oh my! With that, I drowned my lemons in my favorite liquor of all, bourbon. I stuck in that peppermint stick, got to sucking that liquor, strapped on my spikiest heels, and set out for those
mean cobblestone streets.

Drunken Lemon Sticks

(makes 12 servings)

6 Lemons
1 Cup of Liquor of Choice (I have made these with Maker’s Mark, as well as many of the
different flavored vodkas and rums, such as Sweet Tea vodka and Raspberry Vodka)
12 Soft Peppermint Sticks, approximately 4” in length (see link above)
Foil cupcake liners

Cut lemons in half, and also take a small slice taken off the ends, so they can sit flat. Using a small paring knife, cut an “X” in the center of the lemon flesh where all the membranes meet, to make inserting the peppermint sticks easier. Place lemons in a resealable plastic bag, and pour liquor over top. Marinate lemons in liquor for at least 4 hours, and up to 24 hours, in refrigerator. Place lemons in cupcake liners, insert the peppermint stick, and serve. Suck, suck, suck on that liquor, and hail Baltimorons!

Mentioned in this article


  • I'm still puckering! This Baltimoron luuuuved them!

    Aug 09, 2011 at 6:06 PM

  • Snooth User: Rich Tomko
    Hand of Snooth
    103444 2,868

    not being a true Balti-moron, only by association; have never tried - sounds awesome. With a 1,000 peppermint sticks (according to the "buy" link) does anyone have other food/drink-related uses for these sticks?

    Aug 09, 2011 at 7:19 PM

  • I grew up near Pittsburgh, where we did something similar with oranges (except we usually didn't bother cutting them in half). Mmm, it's been ages - wish I knew where to get less than 240 of those peppermint sticks!

    Aug 10, 2011 at 12:13 AM

  • Snooth User: McROFTON
    434415 0

    I grew up in South Africa where rugby fans avoid restrictions on bringing liquor onto the stands by injecting fresh oranges with the liquor of their choice, -- usually cane spirit, vodka, or brandy, -- and sucking on the "innocuous" fruit while watching the match.

    Aug 10, 2011 at 9:31 AM

  • Fear not, my friends! Yes, you can buy these in bulk, and they will actually keep fresh for a long time, but you can also buy them in smaller quantities. Let me Google that for you!

    Now, here's the real question. When I made these for the first time, for our annual Fireworks party, back in June, I did have quite a few left over. (I have a tendency to go a bit overboard, and made approximately 4 bajillion of these for a party of 75 people) So, I froze the lemons right in the bags that I marinated them in. This weekend, we are going to a gen-U-ine Demolition Derby (got scratch my inner redneck gene), and I am going to bust them out of the freezer and take them along. So, we shall see how my freezing experiment worked.

    Please let me know if you decide to make them! Seriously, I think the best idea I have ever had.

    Aug 10, 2011 at 3:30 PM

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