Pepper’s Summer Watermelon Cocktail

I've always been happy to leave the cocktail mixing to the pros, but while sheltering in place, I've been playing around. My younger son is really into watermelon these days, which made me wonder how watermelon might work in a cocktail. I came across this recipe, and after a little experimentation, I might just have found my favorite summer cocktail. It's not to sweet and has a spicy kick that I can't get enough of. Plus, the watermelon "ice cubes" are genius.

Planning note: you'll need to prepare the infused vodka, simple syrup, and watermelon ice cubes ahead of time. This might seem like more work than you want to do for an easy summer cocktail, but it's really not all that much. If you're making cocktails at home, you likely already have a jar of simple syrup in the fridge. And I've found that the extra watermelon juice is a great addition to fruit smoothies, which I've been making regularly for the boys.

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 oz. jalapeno-infused vodka
  • 1 small, seedless watermelon (or a package of cubed watermelon), from which you'll make juice and ice cubes
  • 1 lime, juiced to yield 1 tablespoon juice
  • 1 tablespoon simple syrup
  • splash of sparkling water or club soda
  • lime wedge for garnish (if desired)

DIRECTIONS

To make the jalapeno-infused vodka:
Measure your desired amount of vodka into a mason jar. (I've done this with 4 ounces and 8 ounces.) Slice 1 jalapeno pepper into rounds and add to mason jar. Put the lid on and let infuse for 30 minutes. (This gets quite spicy quickly, so you do NOT want to forget about it and let it sit for hours!) Strain out pepper and seeds and return vodka to mason jar. Store at room temperature until ready to use.

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To make the cocktail:
Cut watermelon into cubes approx. 1.5 inches square. For each drink you plan to make, throw four cubes into a ziploc bag and freeze for 2 hours (or longer). These will be your ice cubes. Take about a cup of watermelon cubes and liquefy, using an immersion blender, full-size blender, or food processor. Note: I strained the juice the first time I made it, but I found that by not straining it, I get more watermelon flavor in the drink, which I prefer.

Measure 1/4 cup (2 oz.) watermelon juice, 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice, 1 tablespoon simple syrup, and 2 oz. jalapeno-infused vodka. If you have a cocktail shaker, shake it all up and strain into a glass over your watermelon ice cubes. If you're shaker-less like me, stir vigorously and then pour into a glass over your watermelon ice cubes. Add a splash of sparkling water (I probably use about 1 oz.). Garnish with a lime if desired. And enjoy!

17 thoughts on “Pepper’s Summer Watermelon Cocktail”

    1. I'm with Rhu. Back when the extended family got a lot of cabin time, there were strawberry daiquiris/slushes mixed up by the ice-cream pailful. I think we kids had a soft version, but I distinctly recall liberal tasting of the real stuff.
      Now I have a hankering for some.

  1. Nice, pepper.

    We have been cycling through several different cocktails. Heavy on "refreshing" and on lime.

    1. Cucumber-basil g & t: coarsely chop about 2 inches of an english cucumber (with skin). Add cucumber, a couple of sprigs of fresh basil (or mint, if you lean that way -- Mrs S doesn't like mint), and a couple tablespoons of sugar to a cocktail shaker. Pound the hell out of everything to extract the juices. Add the juice of one lime and about 4 oz of your preferred gin. Shake with ice. Strain over ice into two Collins glasses and top with tonic.

    2. Vodka gimlet. 2 drinks. Juice 2-3 limes into your shaker (i usually get close to a half-cup). Add about 4 oz simple syrup and about 4 oz vodka (ok, 5-6 oz). Shake with ice and pour over fresh ice into Collins glasses, or pour into chilled cocktail glasses. If the limes are particularly pulpy, I sometimes do this in the blender. Makes for a more intense lime flavor and the drink is kind of frothy. Garnish with lime zest.

    3. Moscow Mule. Lots of fresh lime juice, about 2-3 oz vodka per drink, over ice into Mule mugs. Fill with your favorite ginger ale. We are very particular for Bundaberg.

    4. Lemon Drop (when Meyer Lemons are in season). 2 drinks. Make lemon simple syrup by grating the zest of one Meyer lemon and adding to your syrup made as usual. I like to let the syrup steep for a while with the zest. Juice two Meyer lemons into your shaker. You should have close to a cup of juice. Add about 4 oz of the simple syrup and 5-6 oz Vodka. Shake with ice and strain into two Collins glasses filled with fresh ice and rimmed with sugar or into chilled cocktail glasses rimmed with sugar.

    5. Margarita. About 3 oz each tequila, fresh lime juice, and simple syrup, and 1.5 oz triple sec, per drink. Shake with ice and strain into glasses with fresh ice, rimmed with sugar or salt as is your preference.

    1. I've been similarly looking for drinks that are refreshing--so lime has been coming up a lot. The first cocktail I made at home was a Moscow mule. (Though without the proper mug.) Do you really use ginger ale or is it a ginger beer?

      1. Bundaberg advertises as Ginger Beer, but it's a soft drink. I really don't see a difference between ginger beer and ginger ale when both are non-alcoholic. Bundaberg is a real ginger beer -- fermented with yeast, rather than just made from sugar syrup and ginger flavoring. But they do stop the fermentation before there's noticeable alcohol from yeast pee. And they add in carbonation when bottling.

        Looking around the series of tubes, I guess "brewing" is the accepted difference between ginger beer and ginger ale/soda.

        1. The difference is in how the ginger is incorporated. Either can be fermented to get carbonation, but ginger beer is brewed with the ginger while ginger ale is flavored with it.

            1. Also, to further expand on your question, I've made mules with both and I vastly prefer ginger beer. Ginger beer is better with spiced rum than it is with vodka and lime juice because of how much sweeter it is. I also prefer my mules to have a little more ginger kick to them.

          1. I have done these a few times with Squirt and fresh lime. But would be interested in subscribing to your newsletter.

  2. Tonight: Plum-basil Gin Fizz

    2 cocktails
    Two ripe plums. 1 rough-chopped, the other in pieces for garnish. 2 sprigs basil. Pound the plum and basil in your shaker. Add 4 oz simple, 5 oz gin. Fill with ice and shake for a minute. Strain into Collins glasses over fresh ice and the plum garnish. Fill with lemon-lime seltzer.

    Mmmhmm.

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