The original recipe as it was given to me:
-juice of six lemons
-1 cup white sugar
-16 cups cold water
-4 cups ice cubes
-1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
-pinch of mint
Mix together and enjoy.
A few thoughts:
If you use room-temperature lemons you get more juice. And the six lemons should yield about one cup of juice, if you're going to be a sinner and use juice out of a bottle. I won't tell. But it's better fresh. I strain the pulp/gunk out of my juice before use, but it's better for you if you leave the pulp in. (Didja know lemons have more vitamin C than oranges?)
If you boil the one cup of sugar in one of the sixteen cups of water, THEN mix it all together, the sugar obviously dissolves a lot faster.
If you sift the nutmeg through a very fine mesh (I use my grandmother's tea strainer), you don't wind up with large fragments of spice in the drink, leaving relatives like mine to turn up their noses and say "What in hell's in this stuff?" Of course, if you do leave big fragments in, no one else will touch it and you can drink it all yourself. Up to you.
If you can get it, use a couple fresh mint leaves and bruise them before you put them in; just roll them around between the palms of your hands until they look a little beat up. You get more flavor that way.
You can mix vodka with this and produce quite a satisfactory summer drink. Gin works too, but not so well. And Grand Marinier is a lovely addition, too. The authenticity of the recipe fades, the more booze you add. FYI.
You can also do this with grapefruit juice or a combo of lemon and grapefruit. Or, if you live in California, use Myer lemons. (I can't find them here.) They're a cross-breed between lemons and tangerines. Deeelish. Or limes, or key limes, or bush limes, or, you know, anything citrus that'll hold still.
The nutmeg is the secret ingredient. I had to badger an Amish/Mennonite lady I worked with for months, to get this recipe. So don't tell her you have it. Shhh.