watermelon-mint aqua fresca
Have I mentioned how hot it is outside? Well, it is. Really hot. The thing is, it’s really picturesque outside too. Lots of puffy, white clouds and blue skies, palm trees rustling in the breeze. A real shame to barricade myself indoors under a blanket of air-conditioning and a marathon of Lifetime movies. So maybe I’ll go out. Maybe a little swim.
Perhaps some refreshment will make the steam rising from my deck seem less sauna-like. Something cool and fruity — aqua-fresca. I don’t drink/buy a lot of soda. They are either too sweet (regular soda) or too saccharine-y (diet-soda) for my taste. Probably why I usually drink sparkling water (or wine, ahem). But sometimes I crave a little fruitiness in a beverage. This is a nice happy medium. Fruity, but not so cloyingly sweet to make my teeth hurt. Refreshing too!
I like watermelon because it has a lightly sweet, fruit taste and since watermelon is literally water-melon, it naturally yields a large quantity of juice. The color is also singularly spectacular. Imagine — a real fruit drink where the color doesn’t come from Red 40. You might need a double batch if there’s kids, because they will want some.
I add mint syrup for a touch more flavor, but you can just as easily omit it. It will still be great. Club soda or sparkling water adds fizz that I enjoy on a hot day and if your party is strictly grown-ups, I’ll look the other way if you want to tip some rum or tequila into the mix.
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/2 cup fresh mint leaves, roughly chopped
- 4 cups seedless watermelon
- club soda or sparkling water
- 1 lime, cut into 8 wedges
- In a small saucepan over medium high heat, combine sugar, water and mint, stirring occasionally until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and let steep for 10 minutes. Strain mint leaves from syrup. Discard mint. (Syrup can be refrigerated up to one week, covered)
- Add watermelon to blender and puree until very smooth. Place a fine mesh sieve over a small bowl or a 4-cup measure. Strain pulp from juice through the sieve, pressing on the solids with the back of a spoon to yield the most juice. Discard solids.
- Chill juice, simple syrup and club soda at least 4 hours, until very cold. (Can be done the day before).
- For individual drinks, mix 3/4 cup watermelon juice with 1-2 tablespoons of simple syrup (or to taste). Add 1/4-1/2 cup of club soda and a squeeze of lime. Serve.