the high noon: golden watermelon, ginger, basil + tequila

golden watermelon cocktail on millys-kitchen.com

I just got home from 5 days spent camping on Orcas Island with my mom.

I briefly thought about just posting the outdoorsy, pacific-northwest-perfect highlight reel of our trip: sleeping under a twinkling night sky, hiking along crystalline mountain lakes and watching baby harbor seals frolic in the bay. (True story.)

But in the spirit of realness I try to bring to this blog each week, I figured I should also tell you how I arrived on the island so tired and tense that I promptly got in a mega-argument with my mom, during which I behaved like a total ass. And how for the first two days, I felt an overpowering urge to check my phone despite the complete lack of signal at our campsite. I kept reaching for my back pocket and my useless phone--a digital phantom limb that refused to stop itching. 

golden watermelon cocktail on millys-kitchen.com

I should also probably disclose how at the soaking tubs perched above a peaceful, wooded cove, I listened to a group of twenty-somethings drone on about the hipness of their lives and how “tight” Copenhagen is until I wanted to rip my own ears off. When their conversation turned to spontaneous human combustion, I decided I couldn’t take it any longer and proceeded to lecture them on the finer points of spa etiquette like a deranged schoolmarm. (I fully expect to look back on that day as the line demarcating the beginning of my old age.)

golden watermelon cocktail on millys-kitchen.com

But the good news, and the point of this post, is that I eventually I stopped checking my phone and wanting to argue with my mom over nothing and lecturing millennials for not properly appreciating the glory of the Pacific Northwest landscape. And when I did, I found myself able to slip into the easy, camp-side spirit I’d been craving.

I was thrilled to be dressed in my coziest clothing. I skipped wearing makeup and didn’t attempt to corral my curls into any sort of order. I swam and picnicked and played cards. Mom and I explored the villages on the island. We bought tomatoes and tiny, sweet peaches at the farmers market. We watched the full moon rise and set over the bay. 

At the 11th hour, one week before I pack my bags and head back to Europe to lead another culinary tour, I found my way to that carefree, summer state of mind. 

golden watermelon cocktail on millys-kitchen.com

I’ve created this cocktail to help you reach the same state of summertime nirvana. It’s called The High Noon, both for it’s sunny color and to evoke the pleasure of basking in the August sunshine. It’s origins are accidental: I was trying to buy a regular old red watermelon to make cocktails for my pop-up dinner earlier this month and discovered I’d brought home a golden watermelon instead. When I saw that Sherrie from With Food + Love was organizing another #drinkthesummer event this year, I knew my contribution would involve that gorgeous yellow melon!

golden watermelon cocktail on millys-kitchen.com

I know I posted a salted watermelon cocktail last year. But I can’t help it--salty watermelon is one of my favorite summer flavors! So I’m back with a cocktail featuring watermelon, a ginger-basil simple syrup, a splash of tequila and a chile-salt rim to keep things interesting. It’s sweet, sour, tangy and a little spicy. Just like summer.

golden watermelon cocktail on millys-kitchen.com

I’m thrilled to be part of the #drinkthesummer event! I loved tinkering in the kitchen to create this cocktail recipe. But I’m even more excited to try out some of the other recipes created by the bloggers participating this year! 

Here is a list of all the summer party people. Check out their seasonal cocktails and mocktails--hopefully you’ll find a new favorite blogger or two to follow! 

With Food + Love | Basil Fig Smash
A Little Saffron | Beach Bum's Rum
A Thought For Food | Tarragon Tequlia Swizzle
Downshiftology | Limoncello Prosecco with Blueberries and Thyme
Heart of a Baker | Green Tea Mint Cooler

Hungry Girl por Vida | Whisky Peach Alexander
The Green Life | Spiced Plum, Fig & Kombucha Cocktail
Hummingbird High | Watermelon and Mint Agua Fresca
Floating Kitchen | Peach Sun Tea and Bourbon Cocktail
Beard and Bonnet | Melon Mojito

EGD | Backyard Peach Sweet Tea
Appeasing a Food Geek | Basil and Black Pepper Gin Sour
Vegetarian Ventures | Garden Tonic Punch
Nosh and Nourish | Mango Margaritas with Chile Lime Salted Rims
Domesticate ME! | Watermelon-Basil Mezcal Margarita

The Foodie Nurse | Husk Cherry Margarita
my name is yeh | Choose Your Own Adventure Bloody Marys
Sevengrams | Cucumber, Gin and Chartreuse Cocktail
Wicked Spatula | Coconut Gin and Tonic
Eat Boutique | Sbagliatos and Homemade Sweet Vermouth

Nutritionist in the Kitch | Healthy Muddled Blackberry Pina Coladas
Chocolate + Marrow | Pequito Verdecito
The Solstice Table | Jalapeño Watermelon Cooler
HonestlyYUM | Watermelon, Fresh Herbs, & Sotol Cocktail
Seasonal Cravings | Strawberry Lime Gin Rickey

Salted Plains | Frozen Honeydew Daiquiris
The Broken Bread | Honeydew-Ginger Apricot Mojitos
Fix Feast Flair | Ginger-Berry Splash Cocktail
Turntable Kitchen | Summer Cooler Cocktails, Two Ways
Foolproof Living | Blueberry, Dark Cherry and Calvados Cocktail
Dessert for Two | Salty Melon Slush


Heartbeet Kitchen | Salty Watermelon Shrub Elixir
TENDING the TABLE | Raspberry and Fig Hibiscus Cooler
Snixy Kitchen | Lavender Earl Gray Blackberry Ice Cream Floats (vegan)
The Bojon Gourmet | Vanilla Rooibos Peach Ice Cream Floats (vegan)
Gratitude and Greens | Hong Kong Style Crushed Watermelon Ice 

My Heart Beets | Spiced Pistachio Shake
rooting the sun | Strawberry Fennel Soda
The Modern Proper | Vanilla Bean, Plum Shrub
Feed Me Phoebe | Watermelon-Cucumber Kombucha Coolers
Gourmande in the Kitchen | Stone Fruit Thyme Shrub Soda

dolly and oatmeal | Cold-Brewed Shiso & Hibiscus Tea Iced Latte
happy hearted kitchen | Heirloom Tomato Gazpacho with Fennel, Orange + Cardamom
I am a Food Blog | Cherry Vanilla Sodas
Tasty Yummies | Fig Vanilla Bean Almond Milk
Let's talk evergreen | Iced Earl Grey Yuanyang With a Hint of Rose

Kale & Caramel | Emerald Beaut Green Spritzer
Earthy Feast | Watermelon Hibiscus Agua Fresca
Now, Forager | Sparkling Plumcot and Purple Basil Shrubs
The Pig & Quill | Brown Sugar Blueberry Pie Shakes
Well and Full | Peach Bubble Tea

Sweetish Co | The Best Frozen Hot Chocolate
holly & flora | Spiced Pineapple Shrub Sparklers with Black Tea + Coconut
Pure Ella | Fresh Mint Tea

A huge thanks to Sherrie from With Food + Love for organizing. Now jump on into this virtual cocktail party and shake up some seasonal, boozy (and non-boozy!) goodness. Drink responsibly and #drinkthesummer!

golden watermelon cocktail on millys-kitchen.com
Golden Watermelon Cocktails with Ginger, Basil + Tequila

Golden Watermelon Cocktails with Ginger, Basil + Tequila

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 2-inch knob fresh ginger, thinly sliced (no need to peel)
  • ½ cup loosely-packed basil leaves
  • ¼ to ½ small seedless golden watermelon (or red watermelon)
  • 2 tablespoons flaky sea salt or kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon chile flakes (I used Portuguese piri piri)
  • ¼ cup fresh lime juice
  • ¼ cup silver tequila
  • 4 small stems fresh basil, to garnish

*Notes: Unless you plan to make a lot of these cocktails, you’ll have some simple syrup left over. It will keep, covered, in the refrigerator for about a month. Use leftover syrup to flavor lemonade, in sorbet and popsicles, or stir a little bit into a fruit salad to kick it up a notch.

- Straining the watermelon is optional. It makes for a clearer cocktail, but you can skip this step if you like.

- The watermelon juice will keep, covered, in the fridge for 4-5 days.

golden watermelon cocktail on millys-kitchen.com

First, make the ginger-basil simple syrup: Combine the sugar, water, ginger and basil in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat. Boil until the sugar dissolves, about 1 minute. Set aside to steep for at least 30 minutes. Pour the simple syrup through a fine mesh sieve, pressing on the solids to get out as much liquid as possible. Discard basil and ginger and set syrup aside to cool completely. 

While the syrup is cooling, make the watermelon juice. Cut the rind from the watermelon and cut it into chunks. Puree in a food processor or blender then strain through a fine-mesh sieve. Do not press on the solids with a spoon or you’ll force them through the sieve. Repeat until you have 1 ¼ cups strained watermelon juice.

Next, stir the salt and chile together in a small bowl and set aside.

To assemble the cocktail: Pour some of the honey simple syrup into a small, shallow bowl or a small plate with a lip. Transfer the salt to a similar plate. Dip the rim of 4 8-oz cocktail glasses into the simple syrup then place the rims the glasses in the chile salt and turn to coat evenly. Set aside

Shake the golden watermelon juice, ¼ cup of the simple syrup, the lime juice and the tequila over ice for 30 seconds (you will need to do this in 2 batches unless you have a large shaker). Strain into the prepared glasses. Top with ice to fill the glasses. Garnish with the basil and serve.

Makes 4 cocktails.

golden watermelon cocktail on millys-kitchen.com

iced horchata lattes

iced horchata lattes on millys-kitchen.com
iced horchata lattes on millys-kitchen.com

When I was in Paris in May, I decided to explore the city’s burgeoning coffee scene and see what all the fuss is about. I wasn’t expecting to be impressed. (I do live in Seattle, after all.)

Of course, I was proven wrong. (I’m noticing a trend here.)

The highlights of this trip were Fragments, Boot Café, Loustic, Blackburn and L'Arbre à Café. And people, the coffee was amazing. Beautifully roasted. Expertly brewed. There were rich bass notes of caramel, tobacco and plum. Delicate tea-like brews tasting of almond or vanilla or flowers. Bright, fruity coffees zingy with the scent of lemon, peach and mango.

iced horchata lattes on millys-kitchen.com

I arrived home jazzed to try new local coffee shops and roasters. Of course, my go-to is the superlative Milstead & Co. in Fremont. I can’t express how much I love those guys. Not only are the baristas some of the nicest, most high-fiving, remember-your-name, ask-about-your-day folks in town. They make a perfect cup of coffee. It was at Milstead that I discovered coffee can taste better without cream. Or sugar. (I come from a long line of add-some-coffee-to-your-cream coffee drinkers, so that’s saying something.)

Anyhoo… I’ve been all over town this summer, drinking coffee at Elm Coffee Roasters and Stumptown and All City Coffee and Analog. And brewing up pitcher after pitcher of cold brew for hot summer days. 

Let’s just say it’s been a very caffeinated summer.

iced horchata lattes on millys-kitchen.com
iced horchata lattes on millys-kitchen.com
iced horchata lattes on millys-kitchen.com

This week, I wanted to try something a little different. Thus were born these iced horchata lattes. For those of you who’ve never tasted horchata, it’s a Mexican drink made from rice (and sometimes almond) milk, cinnamon and sugar. It’s creamy and sweet and delicious on a blazing hot day. It also happens to be a perfect match for iced coffee. But I’ll let you be the judge of that.

So grab your blender and keep your afternoons deliciously caffeinated all summer long!

iced horchata lattes on millys-kitchen.com

Iced Horchata Lattes

  • 3/4 cup long-grain white rice
  • 1/2 cup almonds
  • 3 cinnamon sticks
  • 1/4 cup sugar (or to taste)
  • Pinch sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 tablespoons heavy cream (optional)
  • 4 shots espresso
iced horchata lattes on millys-kitchen.com
iced horchata lattes on millys-kitchen.com

*Notes: If you want to keep this recipe vegan, just omit the cream.

- For a sugar-free version, heat 1/4 cup xylitol or 3 tablespoons mild honey with 1/4 cup of the horchata base until melted. Cool slightly before stirring into the rest of the base.

- The horchata will keep, covered and refrigerated for 4-5 days.

iced horchata lattes on millys-kitchen.com

Place the rice, almonds and cinnamon sticks in the bowl of a blender and pulverize. Add 2 cups of water and blend to combine. Refrigerate for at least 6 hours (and up to 12). 

Strain the mixture through a nut milk bag (I have this one and love it!) or a double layer of cheesecloth placed over a sieve into a medium bowl. Squeeze out as much liquid as possible. Add the sugar, salt, vanilla extract and cream (if using) to the almond-rice milk and whisk until the sugar has dissolved.

To serve: fill an 8-oz glass with ice. Pour a shot of espresso over the ice then top with the horchata. Serve immediately.

Makes 4 lattes.

iced horchata lattes on millys-kitchen.com

the love list

the love list on millys-kitchen.com


This week I’m working on some new features for the blog. My friend Kyle stopped by yesterday to cook up an amazing dish I’ll be posting next week. I’ll also be announcing the dates of the pop-up dinner I’ve been talking about for what feels like ever. Kyle and I will be teaming up to bring you a menu of bright summer fare served under the stars. I’m thrilled it’s finally happening! Stay tuned for details.

the love list on millys-kitchen.com

I’ve been having so much fun collaborating up with other cooks, photographers and creative souls lately, I’ve decided to make that more of a regular occurrence around here. So I’ll be sharing more recipes and stories from some of my creative friends here on the blog.

If you are interested in working on a food, photography or travel project together, shoot me a mail. I love getting to know new folks and sharing knowledge and inspiration with each other!

While I edit the pile of images I shot with Kyle, here’s a little Love List to brighten your weekend!

- First up: The delightful instagram feed of Elie Obeid. I met Elie at Fragments coffee shop the last time I was in Paris. Not only does he make a perfect cup of coffee, he also takes beautiful pictures of his favorite spots in the city. Following along via his feed, I feel like I’m taking a little walk through the streets of Paris every day!

- As long as we're on the topic of photography, there’s an Eggleston exhibit at the Portland Art Museum until August 21. I’m super jazzed to take a little road trip down the coast and check it out. Also, it’s a great excuse to go eat at my favorite spots in Portland. (Hello, Blue Star Donuts!) All my PNW people: see you there!

- If you’re looking for a great recipe for your next bbq or summer shindig, check out this Potato-less Potato Salad. (Is your brain hurting yet?) Sherrie over at With Food + Love made this little gem of a salad from lightly blanched, perfectly tender radishes. It has all the classic flavors of potato salad, without all the carbs. Even if you aren’t trying to lay off the simple starches like me, this salad is a refreshing reinterpretation of a classic that’s delicious in its own right.

- I love, love, love this article on scruffy hospitality my friend Lillian posted on Facebook! Scruffy hospitality entails: “Not waiting for everything in your house to be in order before you host and serve friends in your home.” I’m definitely guilty of feeling like I can’t have friends over if the house isn’t in perfect order. This was a good reminder that inviting friends into our home is first and foremost about connecting with the people we love.

- And no Love List would be complete without a cocktail! Check out these Golden Raspberry Lillet Cocktails Heidi Swanson posted over at Quitokeeto. Lillet cocktails, always and forever.

photo:  Heidi Swanson

Happy Weekend, friends!


the love list on millys-kitchen.com