I’m not one for impulse shopping, except when I’m at the farmers’ market, especially when it comes to first of the season fruit. I wait all winter long to devour fresh berries, peaches, plums, but have learned to steer clear of melons. They tend to be pricey and rather disappointing in flavor. This year, though, I might have unlocked the key to sweet, juicy cantaloupes, honeydew and watermelon.
My mom always told me patience was a virtue, and in this case it’s more a necessity. After a few weeks of soaking up the sun’s rays, these fruits are bursting with enough goodness to send you running for a napkin to wipe the dribble running down your chin. And if you’ve gotten greedy and brought home one too many, it’s time to get creative.
I haven’t hopped onboard the fruit soup wagon, but I do love making cocktails, and figured cantaloupe would provide some interesting conversation during happy hour. I started by making a simple syrup with pureed cantaloupe and sugar. It tasted quite good, so I decided to move forward. I knew I needed a citrus to balance out the sweetness of the fruit and harshness of any alcohol. Limes felt like the right pairing, and vodka was the liquor of choice. Next thing I knew, I was sipping a very refreshing cantaloupe cooler, and looking for the nearest porch to rest my weary feet. It’s the perfect cocktail for kicking back and savoring the last few weeks of summer.
Makes one cocktail
For the cantaloupe syrup
1 cup cantaloupe, cut into chunks
1/2 cup/100 g sugar
For the cocktail
1 1/2 ounces cantaloupe syrup
1 ounce fresh squeezed lime juice
1 ounce vodka
1 mint leaf, plus another for garnish (optional)
freshly opened bottle of seltzer, to top off the glass
- To make the cantaloupe syrup, place the chunks of fruit into the bowl of a food processor. Pulse to coarsely chop, then let machine process until it becomes a smooth puree, about 1 to 2 minutes. Pour into a saucepan and stir in the sugar. Bring to a boil and cook for 1 minute more, until all the sugar has dissolved. Skim foam from top, set aside and let cool.
- Strain cooled cantaloupe syrup to remove foam and "sediment". You should be left with about a 1/2 cup of clear, thin syrup. Store in a covered container and store it in the refrigerator to chill.
- Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add all the cocktail ingredients, and with the top on, shake until beads of water form on the outside. Fill a highball glass or mason jar mug with ice. Strain the drink into the glass. Top off with seltzer, about 2 ounces worth. Garnish with mint leaf, if desired.