The Fourth of July weekend included our annual summer kick-off: a backyard campout complete with too much food and lots of leftovers, including a big bowl of the sweetest watermelon. I couldn't have been happier to juice it, strain it and quickly transform into a perfect summer sip for this week's 10-minute happy hour.
You can buy watermelon juice at the store, but as long as you are dealing with the seedless variety, it's just as simple to chop one up, buzz it in the blender and strain it. When shopping for your melon, feel free to thump and of course check the yellow spot to find a sweet one before you commit to the buy. Go ahead — don't be bashful! Handle the melons and you'll be more likely to get a good one.
Once you're home, remove the flesh from the rind, sticking to the pink or red stuff and avoiding any white parts going into your drink. As the name indicates, these are full of water so no need to add any when buzzing it up in the blender. Once you've got your juice, you can sip it straight or mix it up in this recipe. Serve some fresh sliced cucumbers and tzatziki on the side for a refreshing happy hour to kick off the weekend.
Melon Stand Cocktail
2 ounces Plymouth gin
1 ounce watermelon juice (See Recipe Note)
3/4 ounce Lemon juice
1/2 ounce Aperol
1/2 ounce simple syrup
In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, combine all ingredients and shake until well chilled. Strain into a Collins glass filled with ice. Garnish with a few watermelon balls on a pick.
• To Make the Watermelon Juice: Process cubes of watermelon in a food processor until completely broken down and liquidfied. Strain if desired.
(Images: Maureen Petrosky)