Nothing looks, tastes, or smells as much like summer as watermelon does. Maybe sunblock, but you can’t, and really shouldn’t, drink that. That hot pink melon just screams hot, summer days! Get as much as you can because it’s so hydrating; I don’t care who you are, that juice is going to run down your chin and arms!
Watermelon is as much a staple in our house in these warm months as is a good cocktail. I love nothing more than to gather friends on our patio and share a delish homemade cocktail. After our first round of watermelon mojitos, I’ve declared these the official drink of summer 2014!
The first sip garnered oohs, ahhs, and even a “oh that’s the stuff!” The muddling gives you a solid upper arm workout while the jalapeno is hot enough to keep your metabolism on its toes. I’m not trying to pass off a cocktail as being a part of your summer workout plans, but those facts alone make this drink seem like a no brainer, right?
To really make the flavor pop, you’ve gotta muddle. That means mashing and smashing the fruit with the mint leaves to extract as much juice and essence as possible. We just put the watermelon and the mint leaves in a large pitcher and use a wooden spoon to do the labor intensive part of this cocktail (i.e. the workout!). Do this until the melon is as chunky or juicy as you like. If you don’t want much watermelon pulp at all, run the fruit through a food processor and then muddle with the mint.
But our way, you can serve this mojito with a spoon and enjoy the booze-soaked fruit treat at the end!
Definitely make a simple syrup rather than just pouring in the raw sugar. These blends more fluidly and prevents having bits of sugar that haven’t dissolved. I like to make mine with raw turbinado sugar, less processed than white sugar and about 50 less calories. You can also make this with honey if you like.
Limes are that other unequivocal flavor of summer. Put them in or on anything and I swear it instantly tastes like June by a pool. You’ll want to juice at least one of these guys for the mojitos. Save at least one slice to rim the mojito glasses for salting (or sugaring if you prefer).
To salt our mojitos, we used Naked Sea’s Ruby Wine salt. Not only has this sea salt soaked in merlot, adding a fantastic flavor twist to our mojito, but the salts themselves are responsibly sourced from the Dead Sea. A little pouch is available for just three bucks at Abe’s Market.
The final touch, where this mojito really shows its colors, is with a jalapeno. You don’t have to, but it really is what takes this from just another cocktail to THE official cocktail of summer. Just one small slice, muddled around in your glass, gives an unexpected bite to this otherwise sweet and juicy beverage. Our Fizzy Cherry Jalapeno Limeades from last summer are proof we have a fondness for this pepper.
So what are you waiting for? Watermelon, mint, limes — these ingredients are plentiful right now! In fact, you’ll find most at your farmers market this weekend. Muddle up a pitcher the next time it’s “arms day,” invite your friends over, and give cheers to the start of a fantastic summer!
Watermelon Jalapeno Twist Mojitos
15 mint leaves
2 cups watermelon
12 oz. white rum
1/4 c. simple syrup (we used raw turbinado sugar)
1 lime, juiced
1 cup club soda
1. Add watermelon and mint to a pitcher and use a wooden spoon to muddle together, releasing as much juice and breaking down the fruit as much as possible.
2. Make the simple syrup, set aside. Juice the lime, set aside.
3. Add the rum, syrup, club soda, and lime juice to the pitcher. Mix well.
4. Rim the glasses in lime juice and salt or sugar. Fill with ice, then pour in the mojito.
5. Add one slice of jalapeno to each glass; muddle with your straw or spoon for best flavor.
ALSO TRY THESE SUMMER TREATS
Recipe by Brandi Koskie; photos by Kacy Meinecke