Our time in Northern California last week was cool and cloudy, with highs in the high 50s and low to mid 60s most days. But we knew that coming back to the Valley of the Sun would be a bit different. See, this time of year, the 100+ degree days start to add up.
Shortly after arriving at home, we went to the store to pick up some groceries. I had cooked our food supply down so that things would not spoil during our vacation. Facing a refrigerator empty except for condiments and bottled drinks, I started a shopping list. And since we felt the heat as soon as we landed in Phoenix, my list included things like lots of salad ingredients and fruit.
Of course, in June, the grocery stores display pallet-sized boxes full of watermelons. We are so lucky that those gorgeous melons become available as the weather starts to get really hot. Because really, is there anything more refreshing than cold watermelon on a sweltering day? I have memories of cooling off with sweet and juicy watermelons clear back to early childhood at my grandparents’ home in Iowa, where hot humid summers can be pretty brutal, let me tell you.
The problem is, given that it is just Steve and I, we have trouble eating a whole watermelon before the quality starts to degrade. Usually, I buy the small, personal watermelons, as they are called. But they tend to be more expensive. So, this time, I found a smallish regular watermelon and decided I would try to find more things to use it for. I have a lovely salad recipe that calls for watermelon, for instance.
But then, I got a gander at our upcoming weather, and I decided something even more refreshing was in order.
With temperatures like these, we needed a restorative of some kind. Watermelon cocktails sounded perfect!
Making watermelon cocktails
I love this watermelon cocktail because it is so EASY to make! Look at it. Four simple ingredients!
If you are serving many, increase the recipe and serve it from a punch bowl. It has a beautiful color that displays well in a punch bowl and glasses.
So many cocktails call for simple syrup. And although not hard to make, simple syrup is not something I tend to keep around. I don’t often make cocktails. It seems that the few times I decide that a cocktail would be delicious, I give up making one because I don’t want to start by making the simple syrup.
This watermelon cocktail relies on the sweet watermelon juice to provide both the flavor and the sweet backdrop that would normally come from simple syrup. As a matter of fact, watermelons can be so sweet that you need to add some lime juice to tone it down a bit.
Start by processing the watermelon in a blender. The recipe calls for 4 cups of fruit. By the time I finished cutting the last piece, I was a little over. But I wasn’t worried about it.
In the past, I’ve made watermelon cocktail without straining the juice. The taste was the same, but watermelon can produce a pulpy juice that can leave a coat of solids on the sides of the cocktail glass. Since I wanted to make pretty pictures for this post, I strained the processed juice through a coffee filter.
Straining the juice didn’t take too long, especially when I stirred it down with a spoon to speed the straining along. If you don’t mind a more pulpier juice in your cocktail, you can skip this step altogether.
Then, to the juice, add the vodka and the orange liqueur. Stir, then add part of the lime juice. The amount of lime juice will depend on your desire for sweetness. Steve and I don’t care for cocktails that are too sweet, so I add more lime juice. Make it to your taste. Add lime juice, stir, and taste. If the mix is too sweet, add a bit more.
Then pour into your favorite cocktail glasses filled with crumbled ice. Garnish with watermelon wedges or mint, if you like, and enjoy! Cold, just sweet enough, with a clear and comforting taste of watermelon shining through. These are SO GOOD!
I can tell you what we did with these. As soon as the pictures were done, Steve and I poured them into insulated cups with straws, put on our suits, and slowly sipped our watermelon treats while sitting in floaties in the pool. Steve and I like to end a weekday in the hot Phoenix weather with a cool and relaxing soak before going into the kitchen to prepare dinner together. Occasionally adding this delicious watermelon cocktail to the experience makes it even better.
- 4 cups watermelon pieces, plus wedges for garnish
- ½ cup (4 ounces) vodka
- ¼ cup (2 ounces) orange liqueur (such as Citrónge or Triple Sec)
- 1 ounce lime juice, or more to taste
- Process the watermelon in a blender to juice.
- If you prefer less pulp, strain the juice through a coffee filter in a strainer. This step is optional.
- Then add the vodka and orange liqueur.
- Stir and taste.
- Add 1 ounce of lime juice, then stir and taste again. If the mixture is too sweet, add more lime juice to taste.
- You should end up with approximately 3 cups or 24 fluid ounces of finished cocktail.
- Serve over ice, garnished with melon wedges or mint sprigs.