Watermelon Basil Cocktail and Watermelon Basil Lemonade

2 Jul

I can trace my personal problem of eating my emotions back to watermelons and the Fourth of July.

As a kid, July 4th was a depressing day because it marked the half way point between the first day of vacation and the first day back to school.  The only solution was to drown my sorrows in slice after slice of watermelon.

These days July 4th represents a break from work, rather than a return to it. And for me, watermelon is still the best way to mark the occasion. 6% sugar and 92% water by weight, watermelon is sweet and refreshing. But pair it with basil and lemon and it becomes a force to be reckoned with.

I hope you enjoy this watermelon basil cocktail and watermelon basil lemonade. Fresh, bright, sweet, and citrusy, they’re two of my favorite summer drinks.

where the watermelon grow

To prep for both beverages buy a watermelon that’s really ripe, so it’ll be sweet and juicy. Here are some ways to spot a ripe one:

  • Look for a yellow or light colored bottom. If it has either of these things, it’s ready.
  • Listen for a hollow sound. Give the watermelon a gentle tap to check for a hollow sound. You’ll know it when you hear it. Hollow=ripe. Not hollow=not ripe.
  • Look for a heavy melon. Since watermelons are 92% water, a ripe melon should feel heavy for its size.

Each recipe uses about 8 cups of cubed watermelon, juiced, which is equivalent to about half of a very large watermelon, or an entire regular sized watermelon.

celebrate summer--watermelon basil cocktail (left) and watermelon basil lemonade (right)

Watermelon Basil Cocktail

Ingredients:
8 cups of watermelon, cubed
4 large basil leaves
1/2 cup of freshly squeezed lemon juice
Angostura bitters
1 bottle chilled sparkling wine

Directions:
The night before your party:

1. In a blender, juice the 8 cups of watermelon.
2. To the blender pitcher of watermelon juice, add 1/2 cup of freshly squeezed lemon juice. Squeeze it yourself, or, get something from the store–I won’t tell.
3. Put the 4 basil leaves in the juice mixture. Put this mixture into the fridge. While it chills overnight the juice will become inflused with basil.

Make sure you also chill your champagne or sparkling wine. Before the party the next day, strain the juice into a large pitcher to remove the basil leaves and any extra large pieces of fruit. Don’t worry–there should still be a good amount of pulp.

Then, to make a drink:
1. Start with a couple of good splashes of Angostura bitters in the bottom of your champagne flute.
2. Fill about 1/3 of the flute with the watermelon/lemon juice mixture.
3. Top it off with your chilled champagne or sparkling wine. A marvelous, creamy foam head should form when the bubbles meet the pulp.
4. Cheers!

Makes 4 servings.

It’s always nice to offer a special non-alcoholic beverage. Here’s an alternative that’s just as refreshing and delicious.

watermelon basil lemonade

Watermelon Basil Lemonade

Ingredients:
8 cups of watermelon, cubed
4 large basil leaves
2 cups of freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 lemon to cut into lemon slice garnishes
sugar cubes (optional)

Directions:
Night before prep:

1. Same deal. Juice the watermelon, add the lemon juice, submerge the basil leaves for optimal basil-infused flavor, chill.

Before the party:
1. Strain the juice into a pitcher. Keep the basil leaves for garnish, if you like.
2. Slice a lemon into garnish slices and add it to the pitcher.

Because the watermelon is so watery by nature, don’t put ice cubes into the main pitcher, it’ll just melt and dilute the flavor. Instead, put a couple of ice cubes into a glass. If you have younger kids coming who prefer their lemonade on the sweeter side, add a sugar cube to each glass. Otherwise,  I like how the bright tartness of the lemon juice balances the honey flavor of the watermelon.

fun, "gourmet" lemonade

Hope you enjoy and have a Happy 4th of July.

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One Response to “Watermelon Basil Cocktail and Watermelon Basil Lemonade”

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. tomato mozzarella basil salad « good taste - July 7, 2010

    […] Jul You know I love basil. But, I’m having a hard time keeping up with my plant. It’s like it’s on […]

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