When life gives you leftover cantaloupe, make cocktails. I know what you're thinking: Leftover cantaloupe?!? Say whaa?!? OK, let me clarify. The other day I attempted to make baby food out of cantaloupe. I was all like, I'm going to expand my baby's palate! and Why don't they make cantaloupe baby food? It's so delicious! Um, yeah... I sort of failed to remember that melon is mostly water, therefore, a pureed melon is pretty much juice. Total fail. After promptly eating a big ol' piece of humble pie, I let Lucas try the new flavor and then began to think about what the heck I was going to do with all that leftover puree.
As of yet, I haven't had many outstanding melon cocktails in my life: a watermelon margarita here, a Midori sour there (gross), but not too many that really stood out from the crowd. Surely there had to be a better option. Let me be clear...I am NOT a mixologist, but I love a good mixed drink, so I got to work, with visions of prosciutto-wrapped cantaloupe balls dancing my head.
I twisted my husband's arm ever so slightly into trying these with me on a recent rainy afternoon. After a few tweaks here and there, we finally got it right, and thankfully remembered to write the recipe down. I love so many things about this drink: the gorgeous color, the drink-ability, but I especially love the sweetness of the cantaloupe paired with the salty prosciutto. The fresh basil and lime add a refreshing touch, and the sparkling mineral water really lightens up the drink, making it a great choice for a special brunch, such as Mother's Day. I mean, it's mostly cantaloupe, so it's practically breakfast anyway, right?
Cantaloupe-Basil Vodka Cocktails
Yield: 1 cocktail
3-4 basil leaves, roughly chopped
2 fl oz vodka
1/2 cup pureed cantaloupe (very ripe)
3 T simple syrup (recipe below)
fresh lime wedges
splash of sparkling natural mineral water, such as S. Pellegrino or Perrier
Kosher salt or sugar, depending on your taste preference, for rimming the glass
fresh basil leaves
balls of cantaloupe
small mozzarella balls, like Ciliegine
- Cut a slit in the middle of a lime wedge and run it around the rim of a cocktail glass of your choice (I used an old fashioned glass), then turn upside down and dip the glass into a small plate of Kosher salt (or sugar, depending on your taste).
- In bottom of cocktail shaker, muddle the basil leaves.
- Add the vodka, pureed cantaloupe, simple syrup, and fresh lime.
- Fill shaker almost full with ice, and shake vigorously for about 5 seconds.
- Strain into prepared glass.
- Add crushed ice to almost fill the glass and a splash of sparkling mineral water.
- Garnish with skewers of prosciutto-wrapped mozzarella balls, melon balls, and fresh basil leaves (you can get creative here).
- In a small saucepan, add equal parts sugar and water and heat on medium just until sugar is dissolved. Cool and store for several weeks.
- Some separation of the drink is normal and OK, just give it an occasional swirl with the garnish skewer to remix.
- If you prefer a stronger drink, strain the cocktail into a martini glass, and skip the ice and sparkling mineral water.
- Use very ripe, sweet cantaloupe if possible. To pick out a good melon, look for one that smells fantastic and has a slightly peachy color around the stem. Avoid the ones that are still green around the stem area.