This refreshing watermelon cooler has a hint of basil and cucumber and stays chilled thanks to frozen watermelon balls. Cheers to summer!
Big news: the popsicle stain came out of my pants, and I made us a watermelon cooler to celebrate!
A couple weeks ago Ben came home with a really pretty bottle of something called Uncle Val’s Botanical Gin. He tried it at a bar in Nashville and enjoyed it, so he hunted down some to bring home. I was excited because gin and tequila are my spirits of choice, but Ben usually only buys whiskey and I just can’t stand it. I tried the gin and in addition to the expected piney juniper flavors, I noticed hints of cucumber and sage. It’s such a unique flavor, and really refreshing for summer. I suspected it would pair perfectly with fresh watermelon and decided to create this watermelon cooler.
A watermelon cooler is just what you need on a summer Friday. If gin is not your spirit of choice, this is also delicious virgin and I bet it’d be great with tequila, too. It’s basically watermelon juice amped up with a bit of subtlely herbal honey syrup and tangy lime juice.
That color, though, right?! This watermelon was fresh from Big Sycamore Farm and I couldn’t believe the amazing color and flavor. It was also ridiculously juicy. After scooping out a bunch of watermelon balls, there was a bunch of juice just sitting in the bottom of the melon half. I poured that out and it wasn’t quite enough, so I just rubbed chunks of watermelon into the bottom of a fine-mesh strainer set over a bowl to get the rest. No need to get out a blender that you’ll have to wash later! Watermelon is so juicy that there will be almost nothing left in the strainer to throw away.
I hate it when I make a drink that tastes perfect and then it’s watered down from the ice before I’m halfway done drinking it (slow sipper over here). So, for this cocktail we’re keeping things cool with frozen watermelon balls. There’s no ice in sight! It only takes about an hour in the freezer for the balls to be cold enough to keep your drink chilled, and they look way prettier than ice. I can’t wait to keep experimenting with using frozen fruit instead of ice cubes. In fact, I have some plans for this weekend involving a cantaloupe. I’ll definitely report back.
How’s your weekend looking? Wouldn’t it look even better with one of these watermelon coolers in your hand?
- ¼ cup honey
- ¼ cup water
- 2 large sprigs of basil
- Frozen watermelon balls
- 1 cup fresh watermelon juice
- 1 shot Uncle Val’s Botanical Gin
- 2 tablespoons honey basil simple syrup, or to taste
- 1 tablespoon lime juice, or to taste
- Basil sprigs and watermelon slices, for garnish
- To make the simple syrup, heat the honey, water, and basil sprigs in a small saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally until the syrup comes together. Let cool to room temperature, then remove the basil sprigs. Refrigerate until needed for up to a week.
- To make a watermelon cooler, fill a highball glass with frozen watermelon balls. Combine the watermelon juice, simple syrup, and lime juice in a cocktail shaker (or stir together in a bowl). Pour over the watermelon balls, garnish, and serve.