When the temperatures start to rise and the humidity starts to make you itch, visions of icy, fruity drinks start to dance in your head. It’s easy to turn to the old standbys like strawberry daiquiris or pina coladas but a nice change of pace never hurts.
I’m a big martini fan but a regular martini usually seems too harsh on a hot summer day. Sure, you can take the easy way out and use flavored vodkas to concoct all types of fruity vodka martini versions but nothing beats using real fruit. Besides, one of the beautiful qualities of the original gin martini is that you can actually taste the liquor instead of searching for it if it is masked with sugar, juice, cream and other additives.
This “healthy” watermelon version of the classic martini hits the spot. Actually, after two or three of them, a lot of spots get hit…very nicely. Just don’t overdo it or the nice hits will turn into harsh ones when you awake the next day.
If watermelon isn’t your cup of cocktail, experiment with other melons like cantaloupe, honeydew, Casaba or Crenshaw. The flesh of these melons is normally much denser and sturdier than watermelon, so it’s not necessary to press it through the sieve. Just cut the melon flesh into small cubes before blending it with the other ingredients to ensure a smooth finished drink.
1 cup watermelon juice (press watermelon flesh through a sieve)
½ cup gin
¼ cup simple syrup (equal parts of sugar and water heated until sugar dissolves and cooled)
2 tablespoons lime juice
3 tablespoons salt (optional)
3 tablespoons sugar (optional)
Watermelon slices for garnish (optional)
Mix together salt and sugar. Wet the rims of two chilled martini glasses with a piece of watermelon and dip rims into salt/sugar mixture.
Mix watermelon juice, liquor, simple syrup and lime juice and ice in a cocktail shaker. Pour into glasses and garnish with watermelon slices.
If you are making melon martinis for a crowd, you can mix all the drink components the day before and keep them chilled. The salt and sugar can be premixed as well. Melon martinis can also be made “frozen” by using a blender instead of the shaker for mixing—just don’t forget to add ice to the blender to create a slushy effect. Use slices of whatever melon you choose as garnish.