What better way to take your mind off the heat than a cold drink that tastes like fresh watermelon: the Watermelon Sour. While summer continues to heat up, I’ve got watermelon on the brain, and a simple syrup of fresh watermelon imparts a bright, fresh taste to this sour.
While it might be more watermelon-forward if I used a watermelon flavored vodka, I prefer to keep my spirits unflavored if possible. However, if you’ve got a little watermelon vodka on hand, I’ll give you a couple of options to make it in the notes.
Watermelon simple syrup shouldn’t be cooked. If you see a recipe for watermelon simple for cocktails that calls for heating it up on a stove, run away. For this recipe I cut up 1 lb of watermelon into small cubes, and added 8 ounces of sugar. I put the contents in a quart ziploc back and left it in the fridge for 24 hours. Once I strained out the watermelon chunks I was left with a wonderful, vibrant watermelon simple syrup to use for cocktails and other food experiments.
Since I’m a whiskey girl, I kept the first version close to my usual 2:1:1 ratio for sours – 2 ounces spirit to 1 ounce sour and 1 ounce sweet and used Woodford Reserve bourbon. However, with the egg white or aquafaba, some of the sourness gets toned down a little too much, so I cut back on the egg white/aquafaba in the second iteration.
Natalie’s Orchid Island Juice graciously sent me a box of their cocktail kit juices to play with for some mixology experiments. I’m loving not having to juice things to put together the cocktails. Their flavors are vibrant and they’re preservative-free. They are as close to fresh-pressed juices as I’ve tasted with store-bought lemon juice. Good news is they’re available at most large grocery stores like Whole Foods and Publix. While we’re at it, I miss having Publix nearby. That’s one part of Nashville I do miss!
Back to the watermelon sour, though. If you’d like, swap out to just vodka as the base spirit! The color will be a much more vibrant pink and it’ll allow the peppercorn tincture and Rizzo bitters a lot more exposure on the palate without the whiskey to mask them.
However, for me, whiskey’s base in the cocktail keeps things a little complex.
Be sure to taste test the cocktail before you pour and garnish. Watermelon simple can vary widely in its watermelon-ness so adjust as need. (As always)
Watermelon Sour – the Meloncholy Sour
- 1 oz lemon juice
- 1 oz watermelon simple**
- 2 oz bourbon
- ½ oz egg white or ½ oz aquafaba
- 6 drops Crude Rizzo bitters
- 1 barspoon peppercorn tincture
- 5 mint leaves
- Garnish: fresh watermelon and mint leaves
- Combine ingredients to a cocktail shaker and add ice. Shake until very cold, then shake another 30 seconds. Double strain into a chilled coupe glass and garnish with fresh watermelon and mint leaves.