3 Ways to Build a Cocktail in a Watermelon
If watermelons could talk, they would say: “Fill me with liquor and take me to a party.” (We’ve also heard our Editorial Director say this from time to time.) At your next cookout, treat your pals to the ultimate summer cocktail made inside the ultimate summer fruit. Here are three takes, depending how much effort you feel like putting in.
THE EASY WAY
Ingredients: a medium watermelon, a 750ml bottle of liquor
We’ve all seen the viral image of a watermelon, impaled by a bottle of booze at a jaunty angle. It’s a compelling image, full of danger and possibility. But there’s a better way to do it.
Slice a watermelon in half, the long way, then stabilize the two halves by slicing a small round of rind off each one’s bottom. Scoop a two-inch deep hole in the center, then make four evenly spaced, edge-to-edge cuts through it (creating eight pieces, think pizza). These cuts will act as canals, guiding the booze evenly across the melon.
For each half, take your chosen liquor (gin works well, as does white rum and blanco tequila) and pour it into the center hole until the melon half is fully saturated. Set your melon halves on baking pans (spillage is the enemy), and carefully place them in the fridge. Give them an hour for the booze and melon to fully get to know one another, then scoop that chilled, boozy melon meat out into glasses, top with cold soda water and serve. Or, just eat the spiked watermelon straight from the rind with a spoon, you filthy heathen.
THE SLIGHTLY MORE EFFORT WAY
Ingredients: half a medium watermelon, 4 oz lime juice (about 4 limes), 2 cups white rum, a dozen ice cubes
With only a little more work you can slushify your boozemelon (or boozify your slushmelon, whichever you prefer). Again, you’re going to want to stabilize your watermelon half by slicing a round of rind off the bottom. Then, hollow that puppy out (reserving all the fruit and juice) and pop the watermelon shell in the freezer. Next toss your scooped out watermelon into the blender with the lime juice, rum and ice, then blend until the ice is fully incorporated (you may need to do this in batches). Tada! You are now the proud owner of a slushy watermelon punch. Pull your frozen watermelon shell out of the freezer, fill it with punch, put out cups and a ladle and get the hell out of the way (guests have been known to stampede for this stuff).
THE AWESOME, BUT LOTS OF WORK WAY
Ingredients: A watermelon, 2 cups of gin, half a cup of white superfine sugar, half a cup of water, a teaspoon of salt, a handful of chopped basil and 6 oz lime juice (about 6 limes).
Three words: Frozen. Watermelon. Balls. (For the rest of this recipe, we’re going to need you to try very hard not to make a series of “that’s what she said” jokes.)
First things first: Start with the balls. (See what we mean? It’s hard. Ahem. It’s difficult.) In this case we’re using the melon balls as magical non-diluting ice cubes. Cut your watermelon in half. Use a melon baller (or small ice cream scoop) to ball out one of the halves. Place the balls, one per slot, into empty ice cube trays and freeze. Now scoop the meat out of the other half watermelon, buzz it in the blender and strain it using a fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth (if you have a juicer, go ahead and put it to work here). You now have watermelon juice. Resist the urge to drink it all. Slice a small round off the bottom of one of the half-watermelon shells and put it in the freezer.
Now make a basil simple syrup: heat sugar, water, salt and basil in a saucepan until it simmers (don’t let it fully boil). Take the pan off the heat, let the mixture steep 15 minutes, then strain out the basil.
It’s time to put your masterpiece together. Mix the watermelon juice with the lime juice, six ounces of basil syrup and two cups of gin. Place the frozen watermelon balls into the frozen watermelon shell and pour the watermelon punch over them.
Serve with ladle and glasses, or make it a communal cocktail with a fistful of straws.