We’ve been having a full-on, sweltering, no-joke sort of summer here in Seattle. I’ve lost track of the number of days the temperature has peaked above 90°. Whether or not to buy an air conditioner is a hot topic of conversation. And you can actually swim in the (normally frigid) ocean this year.
I’m not complaining (well, maybe a little bit) because for once, it actually feels like summer in Seattle. There’s no ambiguity this year; summer is happening. It is undeniably time to get your beach-game on, grab your flip-flops and gather your people together for an impromptu picnic or barbecue.
And it’s definitely time for watermelon.
Sweet, ripe, juicy watermelon is summer by the slice.
There have been Seattle summers where carving fat wedges of watermelon under grey skies and pouring rain would have felt...wrong. But this year, I’m buying watermelon after watermelon, in celebration of all this sun.
So this week I wanted to share a recipe for a watermelon cocktail that’s just right for a summer gathering with friends or family. It’s dead easy to make. Just whiz some watermelon in the blender, juice a few limes, stir together a honey simple syrup and you’ll be pouring up this bright summer cocktail in no time.
Honey-Watermelon Cocktails with a Vanilla Salt Rim
- ½ cup honey (I used wildflower honey)
- 2 tablespoons coarse salt
- 1 vanilla bean
- 4 cups strained watermelon juice (the approximate yield of 1 mini seedless watermelon)
- ½ cup freshly-squeezed lime juice
- 10 oz. (1 ¼ cup) gin
- 2 limes, cut into wedges, for garnish
*Notes: I used Maldon sea salt (because it's my fave) and Hendrick's Gin (because its floral notes work really well with the watermelon, honey and vanilla). But feel free to experiment and see what you like.
First, make a honey simple syrup by combining the honey and ¼ cup boiling water in a heatproof bowl or measuring cup. Stir until the honey is completely dissolved. Set aside to cool.
Make the the vanilla salt while the simple syrup is cooling: cut the vanilla bean in half lengthwise with a sharp paring knife. Use the knife to scrape out the vanilla seeds and rub them into the salt until they are evenly distributed.
Make the cocktail base by combining the watermelon juice, lime juice, 6 tablespoons of the simple syrup and the gin in a mixing bowl or pitcher. Whisk to combine. (The cocktail base can be stored for up to 3 days, covered, in the fridge.)
To assemble cocktail: Pour some of the honey simple syrup into a small plate with a lip. Transfer the salt to a similar plate. Dip the rim of a lowball or stemmed cocktail glass into the simple syrup then place the glass in the vanilla salt and turn to coat the rim evenly. Fill the glass with ice, fill with cocktail base and garnish with a lime wedge.
Makes about 8 cocktails.