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Friday, July 23, 2010

Ginger Watermelon Summer Cooler

I'm a water drinker.  I shy away from extra drinks like juices, energy drinks and sodas.  I save my liquid calories for tea, coffee, wine, gin ... and beer. 

But if ever there was a time to splurge on fun drinks, this is it- summertime. You can pretty much juice any fruit, add simple syrup, a splash of vodka and voila!  A super refreshing summer cocktail is on your lips in no time.

In this case I chose watermelon - it seemed like a nice option for an afternoon get-together.  Plus, I like to think this is a slightly upscaled version to the classic 'soaked watermelon'; you know what I'm talking about, the watermelon sprouting the upside down vodka bottle...   Stop by the farmers market, or better yet- Stanley's Vegetable Market, pick up a melon and make yourself a fat and happy cocktail worth splurging on.

Tips and Techniques:  Juice the watermelon in the morning, it takes a few minutes to get this all chopped up and juiced.  Read the labels, look for a juicy, seedless watermelon; if you have a melon with seeds, remove them before blending.

Ginger Watermelon Summer Cooler

1 small seedless watermelon
Ginger simple syrup (recipe below)
Juice of 1 lime
Ginger ale

Begin by making the simple syrup first, you will need this to cool before adding to the drinks (this can be done the day before, just store in the fridge.)  Chop up the watermelon, removing the rind.  Save a few slices for garnish on the glass.  In batches, place the melon in a blender and blend for just 5-10 seconds.  Be sure to remove any seeds before blending.

Set a strainer on top of pitcher, strain the juice into the pitcher.  Use a spatula or wooden spoon to push the juice out of the pulp.  Throw the pulp away and blend another batch. I juiced 8 -10 cups of melon juice and still had half of a watermelon left over, it was plenty for a party of about 10. Cut up any remaining watermelon, grate fresh ginger over the top and serve in a pretty bowl.

Add in the lime and ginger simple syrup. You may like more or less so add in half of the syrup first, then taste and add to your liking.  The melon juice itself is pretty sweet, so don't add the whole batch of syrup without tasting, I only used about a cup of the syrup.

To mix:  Fill a cocktail glass with ice, fill the glass 2/3rds full with the melon juice.  Add 1 oz of vodka and top off with fresh ginger ale and give it a stir.  Serve with a little watermelon wedge.

Ginger Simple Syrup
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
1 fresh ginger, cut into pieces (about 1/4 cup)

Add all ingredients in a saucepan, heat on medium until the sugar dissolves.  Remove from heat and let cool, this will allow the ginger time to steep.
Strain out the ginger, store in the refrigerator to keep it cool until ready to use.

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