My mission: create a watermelon martini using Sapore’s new Ruby Red Grapefruit White Balsamic vinegar as bitters. My thought? “I don’t know the first thing about mixing cocktails, and today’s tipplers have a discerning palate.” My first mistake? Publicly throw down the watermelon martini gauntlet on Facebook.
It turns out the same skill set you use to hone a recipe for farm-fresh produce works pretty well for cocktails. I wanted something that showcased bright, clean, sweet watermelon flavor, like the fruit, not the Jolly Rancher. I wanted cool, herbal notes to ground it and lend some depth.
Fresh pressed watermelon juice was the place to start. Gin gave it herbal depth as did basil simple syrup, whose sugar brought out the sweetness in the fruit. The Ruby Red Grapefruit vinegar lent that certain je ne sais quoi – depth, brightness? A squeeze of lime made it pop.
I’m no mixologist, but I’ve got a new favorite cocktail, at least for the next few weeks.
The Mid-Summer Ruby
Ingredients for one cocktail:
- 3 ounces fresh pressed watermelon juice (see below)
- 1 ounce smooth gin – use Bombay and save the Beefeater for a great gin and tonic!
- 1/4 ounce basil simple syrup (see below)
- 1/2 tablespoon Ruby Red Grapefruit vinegar*
- lime round to garnish
*You can find Ruby Red Grapefruit Vinegar at Sapore – order it online – or look for grapefruit bitters at your local specialty liquor store.
- In a cocktail shaker with ice, add watermelon juice, gin, simple syrup and vinegar. Shake and strain in to a martini glass or a lowball with ice. Garnish with a lime round. Squeeze over the cocktail before drinking.
Watermelon juice and simple syrup:
- Watermelon juice can be made by pressing cubed watermelon through a food mill and then straining it through cheese cloth. Or, you can purée it in a blender, strain it through a sieve and then strain again through cheese cloth.
- Make the basil simple syrup by stirring together 1 cup sugar and 1 cup water over medium high heat. Let cook until the sugar dissolves. Remove from heat, and add 1 packed cup whole basil leaves. Let steep for 15-20 minutes and strain to remove solids.