Watermelon, Lime, Basil, and Mint Makes the Gin Stevie "Summer in a Glass"

by Steve Schul and Paul Zablocki

I just love watermelon at its peak during the summer, when one bite into a slice sends pink juice dripping down your chin. When its sweetness reminds you instantly how much you loved it last summer. I definitely wanted to make a cocktail with watermelon, but in a way I had never heard of before. My inspiration came from an old Imbibe Magazine recipe for Watermelon-Sake Popsicles. What overgrown child doesn't love an ice-cold popsicle on a hot summer's day, and if it's watermelon, even better. And with sake? Well hip, hip hoorah.

I think we all get crazy for watermelon in the summertime because of the uniqueness of its sweetness. Sure, its texture is unmatched by any other fruit I can think of, the slightly rough structure that collapses with just a little pressure, shooting forth a big burst of honeysweet goodness. So I decided to make ice cubes inspired by the popsicles, plop some of those into a tall glass, and tickle the cubes with the herbaceous tastes of basil and spearmint, and anoint with a generous portion of Hendrick's gin, graced by lovely cucumber and rose notes. With each sip, the watermelon-sake ice cubes slowly melt, and with each consecutive sip, you are taken on a journey from tart booziness to slushy sweetness. I know that to make these drinks requires a little effort beyond regular mixing skills, but do believe me when I say they will delight all the guests at your cocktail party. Make sure you have plenty of everything so that each person gets at least two drinks, three for the heavy hitters.

Paul and I love to pair our Gin Stevies with another summertime favorite - heirloom tomatoes. We dice them and dollop generous portions on freshly toasted baguette to create the perfect bruschetta. Take a bite, and follow with a generous sip of this tall summer cooler bursting with flavor.

Gin Stevie

(created by Cocktail Buzz)

  • 2 oz. gin (we like Hendrick's for this)
  • 1/2 oz. fresh lime juice
  • 5 spearmint leaves
  • 5 basil leaves
  • 1/2 oz. simple syrup
  • 3-4 watermelon-sake ice cubes (see below for recipe)
  • splash of soda
  • spearmint sprig, as garnish
In a highball glass gently muddle lime juice, simple syrup, and leaves. Add chilled gin, watermelon-sake ice cubes, and soda. Stir. Garnish with sprig. Add a straw.

Watermelon-sake ice cubes

  • 4-lb. seedless watermelon, cut into cubes
  • 1 oz. fresh lime juice
  • Up to 1 cup sugar (depending on sweetness of watermelon)
  • 180 ml bottle sparkling sake
Add first 3 ingredients to a bowl for at least 15 minutes and up to several days. Transfer contents of bowl to a blender and puree until chunks are broken down. Stir in sake. Pour into ice cube trays and freeze until ready to use.

Makes up to 8 dozen cubes. (It may sound like a lot, but trust us, you'll be much happier with lots in your freezer.

  • 3-4 large heirloom tomatoes
  • baguette or other loaf of bread
  • garlic clove, cut or smashed
  • salt and pepper
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 small red jalapeno, seeded and finely diced

Slice baguette on an angle into half-inch-thick slices. (If you are using a wider loaf, make sure you cut the slices so that they are about 3-4 in. by 2 in., or thereabouts.) Toast on a grill for a few minutes. You should see grill marks when you flip the slices. Rub with garlic. Flip. If you don't think you toasted the first side enough, rub the second side with garlic as well, and flip again. Make sure to watch you bread carefully so the slices do not burn. Remove from heat and place on a serving tray.

Meanwhile, quickly chop ripe tomatoes into quarter-inch cubes (or half-inch, depending on how you like the texture). Dollop tomato cubes generously on each slice of toasted bread. Salt and pepper, to taste. Sprinkle with jalapenos. Drizzle with olive oil.

Makes about 3 dozen.

To read more about the Gin Stevie and other fine cocktails, visit   www.CocktailBuzz.com

photo © Steve Schul, Cocktail Buzz