Summer is starting to put in some special guest appearances here in Seattle. That means stone fruits are back at the market, and so is yummy watermelon. We’ve noodled around with watermelon in the past and have found that it makes for a light, refreshing cocktail that’s perfect for warm weather. With that in mind, we decided to see if we could come up with some other tasty libations using it.
We came up with the Gentry cocktail some time ago, but didn’t publish it because it requires Barolo Chinato, which can be a little tricky to come by. We decided to see if we could substitute more readily available ingredients and come up with something equally delicious. Other red aperitif wines and red vermouth seemed like the obvious substitutes. We found just Dubonnet Rouge by itself made the drink a little flat, but just Carpano Antica made it a touch too bitter. Splitting the difference brough just the right amount of wine-y richness and bitter complexity.
- 2 oz bourbon
- 2 oz watermelon juice
- 1/4 oz Carpano Antica
- 1/4 oz Dubonnet Rouge
- 1/4 oz simple syrup
Shake with ice. Strain into a glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.
- Nose: Lemon, dried orange peel, watermelon, sweet oak, oxidized wine, raisin.
- Palate: Open is fresh, sweet, and fruity with watermelon, lemon and honeysuckle flavors. Bourbon speaks up on the mid-palate with sweet vanilla-y oak and baking spices along with a little bit of raisin from the wine. Finish dries out and moves to bitter herbal notes, grape skin, and oxidized wine. Very light bodied drink overall, surprisingly so in something with a whiskey base.
We recently received some samples of So Simple Syrups (see our Samples Policy for what it means that we’re talking about them). We really like these, as they aren’t too sweet and the flavors are very true, tasting of fresh basil, mint and rosemary. Having tasted the basil, we immediately thought that it might pair nicely with watermelon. Turns out we were right, but where to go with it? We tried cachaca, which did not pair well, with the grassy-ness of the spirit muddling the floral fruitiness of the watermelon. Next up was pisco. A more floral pisco paired nicely, but we felt that the drink would be too close to the Ash of Roses from our Flower Power post. Christa got a wild hair and thought that maybe aquavit would be a nice pairing. As per usual, she was right, but using only aquavit as the primary spirit was way too much, overpowering the other ingredients. Enter vodka, stage left. A combination of that with the aquavit got us where we needed to be. She also felt that cucumber would go nicely, so we muddled in a few rounds. We’ve noticed that cucumber and both watermelon and aquavit go well together. Turns out it also complemented the vegetal notes of the basil simple syrup. So far so good. We then tried a bit of lime juice to brighten things ever so slightly, but the added acidity unbalanced the drink. We decided to use lime peel tied instead, letting its perfume-y citrus flavor tie everything together for a light delicious cocktail.
- 2 1/2 oz watermelon juice
- 1 1/4 oz vodka
- 3/4 oz aquavit
- 3/4 oz basil simple syrup (*)
- 2 cucumber rounds
- 2 lime twists
Muddle cucumber and lime twists in bottom of shaker. Add other ingredients. Shake with ice. Double strain into a glass. Garnish with a cucumber round.
* We used the So Simple Syrups basil. However a quick internet search turns up several recipes. If you go that route we’d recommend not making them as sweet. Other wise you’ll need to back down the simple by a fair bit unless you like your drinks really sweet.
- Nose: Watermelon, cucumber and basil. Hints of dill and anise.
- Palate: Sweet watermelon and cucumber to start. Dill, anise, caraway on the mid-palate. Savory notes on the finish, with cucumber peel, watermelon rind and basil. Aftertaste is black licorice.
Mmmm deliciously light and easy to drink watermelon cocktails. Perfect for sitting in the backyard enjoying the sun and chatting with friends. Until next time, cheers!