Merchant’s Wife Watermelon Cocktail is summertime in a glass! Nothing shouts summer with more enthusiasm than a watermelon. Between June and August are the peak time for fresh watermelon and some of summer’s most delicious drink ingredients. I know you love watermelon by the wedge, but how about trying it in a cocktail?
This watermelon cocktail is a well-balanced and pleasantly effervescent summer drink. The mild astringency of the Aperol, Italian Orange Liqueur, blends with the watermelon’s sweetness and elevates this brightly-hued cocktail to the heights of sophistication.
It is said that this cocktail drink was named for a 1918 painting by Russian artist Boris Kustodiev (1878-1927) that depicts a buxom woman sitting on a sun-soaked balcony to enjoy her lavish breakfast – which includes a watermelon as curvy and lush as she is. This painting became the most famous of his paintings.
Learn about watermelons and the Egyptian-style of roasting watermelon seeds.
The Merchants Wife Watermelon Cocktail Recipe:
Merchant's Wife Watermelon Cocktail Recipe
3/4 ounce Simple Syrup (see recipe below)
2 (2- by 1-inch) chunks fresh watermelon (any seeds removed), plus wedges for garnish*
1 ounce good-quality gin
3/4 ounce Aperol**
3/4 ounce fresh-squeezed lemon juice
1 ounce club soda
* To choose a watermelon, look for one that is firm, heavy for its size, free of bruises and cuts and creamy yellow on the side that sat on the ground as it grew. Cut watermelon can be stored, covered, in refrigerator for 3 to 4 days.
** Aperol is an Italian orange liqueur. It has become Italy’s most popular light spirit.
Prepare Simple Syrup.
Muddle the watermelon chunks and prepared simple syrup together in a cocktail shaker.
Add the gin, Aperol, lemon juice, and club soda; fill shaker with ice, and shake vigorously.
Strain over into a wine glass filled with crushed ice and serve garnished with a wedge of watermelon.
Makes 1 serving.
Basic Simple Syrup Recipe:
Thick simple syrup (basic simple syrup) - A ratio of 1 part water to 1 part sugar - This is used as the basis for cold fruit drinks and cocktails.
In a high-sided saucepan over medium-high heat, bring cold water and sugar to a boil.
Turn the heat to low and stir constantly until the sugar dissolves completely and the mixture is clear, approximately 3 minutes. Remember - the longer you boil it, the thicker the syrup will be when cooled.
After boiling, let the syrup cool to room temperature, then pour into a tightly sealed, clean glass jar and store in the refrigerator (any clean and sealable container can be used). The syrup can be refrigerated for up to 1 month. You can also stir in 1 tablespoon corn syrup to help ensure the syrup stays smooth.
Sources: This Merchants Wife Watermelon Cocktail is by Chef Jeff Mahn from Stella Rosa Pizza Bar, in Santa Monica, California. This recipe, comments, and photo originally appeared in Saveur Magazine article, July 11, 2012, by Niki Achitoff-Gray. Photo by Maxime Iattoni.