Spicy Watermelon Martini

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I have enjoyed spending my summer in Greenville and getting to try out new cocktail lounges and speakeasies where I can sip on some truly unique drinks. I have not, however, enjoyed spending $12 on a single drink. Making an artisan cocktail in your own home is easier than you think, and it’s always a great way to impress guests.

This summer, Eric and one of his good friends have kind of bro-ed out over watermelon. When they get a craving for it, they go buy one and proceed to eat the entire thing standing over the kitchen sink. This has already happened about 3 times this summer. As classy as this is, I wanted to buy a watermelon and find a more creative way to consume it.

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That’s literally the face I  get every time he is eating a watermelon. It’s as if he’s holding it like we should all be jealous (though I will say with this drink in his hand, you should be a little jealous because it’s THAT good 😉 )

I knew I wanted watermelon and lime, but I also wanted it to have a kick. I used to hate jalapenos in cocktails, but the more I have tried them out the more I love them. It’s like a secret layer of flavor that gives you a hint of spiciness when you are least expecting it. The watermelon is so naturally sweet that it needs a punch of something to contrast all that sweetness. And there is not only lime juice in the drink,  but lime sugar around the rim. Basically, it tastes like candy with every sip as you work your way around the glass.

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I also have never been a huge fan of watermelon. But eventually when your boyfriend is constantly obsessed with buying watermelons you figure you have to just eat (or drink) some. And I was not at all disappointed by this drink! If you are not big on watermelons, I urge you to try it anyway. It was fantastic! Fair warning though: it’s a little dangerous because it’s so refreshing. I almost forgot there was any alcohol in there.

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Spicy Watermelon Martinis

Serves 8

Ingredients:

1/4 of a large watermelon, diced

1 jalapeno, sliced

3 limes

1/2 cup sugar

Your favorite brand of gin (I used Bombay Sapphire)– roughly 1.5 shots per mixed drink

Directions:

  1. Using a potato peeler, peel the zest off of one of the limes. Place the lime zest and sugar in a food processor and mix until the zest is broken up and incorporated into the sugar. If you don’t have a food processor, just finely zest the lime juice and mix it into the sugar. Place on a small plate and set aside.
  2. Using the same food processor or a blender, combine the watermelon, jalapeno, and juice from all 3 limes. You might have to do this in 2 batches depending on how large your food processor is.
  3. Pour the watermelon mixture into a fine mesh sieve to strain out the excess pulp. Discard pulp and reserve juice.
  4. To make each individual drink, rub a small piece of watermelon around the rim of the martini glass. Dip in the lime sugar mixture. Combine 1/2 cup of watermelon mixture, 1-1.5 shots gin, and ice in a cocktail shaker. Shake and serve in the prepared martini glass. Garnish with a small slice of watermelon.

 

 

 

Blueberry Basil Lemonade

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Anyone who has spent a summer in South Carolina knows that the heat and humidity can be brutal. We had a particularly hot weekend last week as I helped move my parents into their new house, and I needed something refreshing to quench our thirst after moving dozens of boxes in the heat.

…Enter blueberry basil lemonade. I am in LOVE with this drink. Nothing screams summer more than a glass of cold lemonade. Add fresh, local blueberries and basil from the garden, and you’ve got a unique summer drink. Add some vodka, and you’ve got a killer cocktail!

Lemonade is one of those nostalgic drinks that instantly takes me back to childhood. Growing up, I lived on a small cul-de-sac off of a busy highway. 2 of my best friends lived next door and we so desperately wanted to be like the other kids who lived in suburban neighborhoods and had lemonade stands. One hot summer day, we made homemade lemonade and put a sign up by the highway advertising our summer treat. We waited at the end of the cul-de-sac for several hours and we FINALLY got one lone customer who saw our sign from the highway. We were so ecstatic that we proceeded to rave about our successful business for the rest of the day. I’d like to think if we upgraded our lemonade stand to include this beautiful drink, we would have been sold out!

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There is something about slicing lemons that makes me feel so calm and clean. Whether I’m zesting or juicing them, the aroma of fresh lemons just puts me in a great mood. This lemonade in particular is quite possibly the best I’ve ever had. The basil gives it an extra layer of freshness and the blueberries give it a gorgeous color and natural sweetness.

A few things to note about this recipe: I like my lemonade on the tart side. I wrote the recipe using only 1/2 cup of simple syrup, but if you know you like it sweeter you may want to adjust that. I also like my lemonade with a LOT of ice, so I don’t water it down as much. You can certainly add more water if you feel like it’s too concentrated.

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Blueberry Basil Lemonade

Serves 6-8

Ingredients:

8 large basil leaves

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup water

1 1/2 cups freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 cup fresh blueberries

7 cups water

Directions:

  1. Make the basil simple syrup: In a small pot over medium heat, combine the sugar and 1/2 cup of water and stir until the sugar dissolves. Turn off the heat and add the basil leaves. Allow to steep for 10 minutes or so. Remove the leaves from the pot and set the simple syrup aside to cool slightly.
  2. Muddle the blackberries with a mortar and pestle and place in a large pitcher (If you don’t have a mortar and pestle, just smush them in a bowl to break them down and release their juices).
  3. Add the lemon juice, simple syrup, and 7 cups (or more, if desired) of water to the pitcher.
  4. Serve lemonade over ice and enjoy!

An Ode to Maibowle: A German Springtime Treat

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Everyone always associates Germany with great beer, and they certainly aren’t wrong. But in case you didn’t know, I’m here to tell you they are on top of their wine game. The first time I ever tasted wine was in Germany, and it only took a few sips before I was hooked on German wines! This post is less of a recipe and more of an informal how-to for creating a unique German wine cocktail.

Maibowle is a fruity, floral drink that you can find around Germany during the month of May. The key  ingredient is Waldmeister (in English, it’s called Woodruff). My Dad recently discovered that you can buy Waldmeister here in the states, so he bought some last year and planted it in the backyard:

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This is what it looks like before it blossoms, which is when you need to use it for Maibowle and other drinks. You simply take a few sprigs of Waldmeister, tie them together with string, and let them wilt in the sun for around 30 minutes. This helps the Waldmeister release its lovely aroma that will perfume the wine. After the Waldmeister has wilted, place it in a pitcher with a crisp white wine (we used a Pinot Grigio). Let this mixture infuse in the fridge for another 30 minutes or so, and there you have it! You can drink the infused wine as is, or top it off with champagne or sparkling water. Since strawberries are also in season, you could also place a few fresh slices of strawberry in the glass.

DSC_0222Here are my parents enjoying Maibowle. Aren’t they so cute?! I also had to snap a picture of this cutie, because he was happily gnawing on a piece of driftwood they brought him back from the beach:

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One day when I join the 21st century and eventually get a smartphone, I can tell you that my phone will be filled only with food and puppy pictures. Probably the only reason I would even want a smartphone would be for the quick availability of a camera to constantly photograph the dog. Seriously!

…But back to Maibowle.

The best thing about this drink is the aroma when you bring the glass to your nose. Words cannot accurately describe the delightfully herbaceous essence the Waldmeister has. If you can get your hands on some Woodruff, you have to try this drink! And if you can’t, come on over and I’ll make you a glass 😉

Prost!

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