Melons have more concentrated sweetness than other fruits and a distinct funky undertone that really pairs well with alcohol. A good melon liqueur can turn basic club soda into a sophisticated summer cooler or add another layer to a complex tiki drink.
2 cups chopped cantaloupe (about half a melon)
1 1/2 cups vodka
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
Combine chopped melon and vodka in a glass jar. Seal and shake, then et mixture steep for 3 days at room temperature. Strain fruit out, pressing down to extract liquid. Filter mixture through a coffee filter or through two layers of cheesecloth. Boil sugar and water over medium heat, stirring constantly, until sugar is dissolved. Let syrup cool. Combine syrup with the melon infusion. Seal in bottle or jar, then shake to mix. Let rest for a minimum of one day. Store in the refrigerator for up to two months.
The recipe I created and posted here was first published on Serious Eats in my DIY vs. Buy column.
Summer time is melon time! So find a melon and put it into your cocktails. Here are a few summery melon cocktail recipes to try.
Hendricks & Honeydew ~ It’s basically a gin & tonic with melon … which sounds like a good idea to me! (You can use your favorite gin, but this one is good with a light, floral gin)
Cantaloupe Margarita ~ A blended margarita amped up with the power of cantaloupe. I’m in.
Melon & Mint Mojito ~ This recipe uses honeydew and cantaloupe for extra melon flavor.
Watermelon & Thai Chili ~ Watermelon and a little heat go well together in this rum cocktail.
Minty Melon ~ Honeydew, cucumber, and mint balance well with tequila for a refreshing summer cocktail.
Borderline Escape from Saveur
Cantaloupe. It’s not just for breakfast. Late August is a great time to get juicy, flavorful cantaloupe—whether it’s from the supermarket, farmers market, or your own garden. It’s an easy fruit to convert into a cocktail ingredient. You could also try any melons similar to cantaloupe, like gaia or ambrosia melons. No melon liqueur necessary! (Although if you want to use your fresh fruit to make your own melon liqueur that will kick Midori’s butt any day, try this simple DIY melon liqueur recipe.)
Pimm’s and Cantaloupe ~ I’m a big fan of Pimm’s, and this simple sparkling recipe is a refreshing way to use the stuff besides the famous Pimm’s Cup.
Cantaloupe Cooler ~ This vodka cocktail has a little lemon, cucumber, pepper, and basil to bring excitement to the humble cantaloupe.
Borderline Escape Cocktail ~ Cantaloupe and tequila are a fantastic pairing. Add chili, lime, and salt … and you’re on your way to a summer party drink.
Cantaloupe Cocktail ~ A little gin and ginger turn cantaloupe into a sophisticated tipple for brunch or sunny afternoons.
Melon Rumballa ~ Use a combination of melons for this fun rum punch to make it colorful, or stick with whatever melon you have on hand. Who said a melon baller wasn’t a practical tool?