I have this thing with watermelon.
Especially in the summer (or creeping up on summer) months. To me, there is nothing that symbolizes the sunshine-bathing, water-splashing, outdoor-activity-friendly warmer weather quite like a big, fat, juicy watermelon. It’s refreshing, filling, full of vitamins and minerals, low in calories and incredibly flavorful. We can even call it hydrating with the high water content and small amount of potassium it contains. What’s not to love?
My watermelon fetish for the season has just begun creeping up on me (thank you, Memorial Day Weekend), but I’m already thinking of tons of fun recipe ideas that involve this delicious summer fruit. To start us off, because it’s Friday (and Friday = cocktails here at CaliGirl Cooking), I wanted to start the ball rolling with a tasty, refreshing Watermelon Balsamic Basil Julep.
This cocktail recipe was somewhat spur-of-the-moment. I had been working in the kitchen all day, the fiancé had been relaxing and getting various chores done around the house, and we were firing up the grill to make some tri-tip for dinner. I don’t know about you, but in our household grilling = cocktail (or beer) in hand, and I had this delicious mini-watermelon sitting in the refrigerator that I just hadn’t been able to resist picking up at Trader Joe’s. As I mentioned a little bit ago, our basil plant from last year has magically decided to reappear in our backyard (despite my incredibly black thumb), and this is a very welcome thing when cocktail hour rolls around at our house.
So, I had watermelon and I had basil, then came time to decide on the booze and any other delicious additions. I quickly decided to use bourbon as the alcohol (knowing my future husband’s affinity for it in any way, shape or form – mixed, straight, doesn’t matter!) and, to his credit, he was the one that recommended I add the balsamic. Genius! It adds just the right amount of kick to this otherwise easy-going drink. I would have to recommend, though, that you use the thickest, “glaziest” balsamic vinegar you can find, as the generic stuff might be just a bit too vinegary. We have a stash of the BEST thick, rich balsamic vinegar from a tiny restaurant in Tuscany, but the Balsamic Glaze from Trader Joe’s would also suffice.
The trickiest part of making this cocktail will just be turning your fresh, delicious, juicy watermelon into juice. I used an immersion blender (which worked wonderfully!) but you could also use a regular blender or even a food processor. You’ll definitely want to strain the juice through a sieve afterwards to catch any seeds or thick chunks that didn’t break down in the blending process.
Once you have your fresh watermelon juice (which, btw, I may start making ALL the time because it was so easy) you simply add it to a cocktail shaker with the bourbon, balsamic, and fresh basil. Shake, shake, shake and strain into a glass filled about ¾ of the way with ice, and you have yourself a cocktail! We opted out of it (there wasn’t enough room in our glasses) but you could also top the cocktails off with a splash of club soda, to give the drink a little fizz. Either way, this is an incredibly delicious cocktail. It is so tasty you won’t even realize you’re drinking all that bourbon!
This recipe will definitely be on constant repeat in our household this summer. I imagine it will become a go-to for us any time we’re entertaining guests, or even if we’re just making a simple dinner in after a long day at the beach. We have my parents staying with us this weekend, and I can guarantee we will be whipping up one or two of these for them before we head to the Paul Simon concert we’re going to on Sunday.
Tell me, what are your weekend plans? I hope they involve lots of relaxing, enjoying the sunshine, and drinking delicious cocktails like these!
Watermelon Balsamic Basil Julep
- 2 cups cubed watermelon this should make about 1 cup of juice
- 4 ounces bourbon
- 1 teaspoon balsamic glaze
- 10 fresh basil leaves
- Club soda optional
- Place cubed watermelon in a small bowl and puree with immersion blender (you could also use a regular blender or food processor for this.) Once pureed, strain fresh watermelon juice through a sieve into a cocktail shaker filled halfway with ice. Add remaining ingredients and shake vigorously for 20-30 seconds.
- Fill two highball glasses about ¾ of the way with ice. Strain mixture in cocktail shaker into glasses, dividing evenly. Top with club soda and garnish with a watermelon cube and more fresh basil if desired.
Refreshing to da max!