watermelon

 

Watermelon Cooler
Enough for 4 drinks

I was never much of a beer or wine drinker. I prefer cocktails. And while I admire the skill set required to make the amazing cocktails that are cropping up around the world, I unfortunately do not possess that skill set. I use whatever ingredients I have lying around to make drinks. I employ simple techniques. The inspiration for this cooler is agua fresca, the fresh fruit juice drink found on Mexican menus. It has spectacular flavor. I’ve always loved the taste of watermelon, especially with some added acidity to spark it up. Grapefruit juice and lemon juice are just the thing here. For the liquor, I prefer white whiskey. People always ask me, “Are you a brown liquor man or a white liquor man?” I’m usually a brown liquor man, but here I like the whiskey white so that it doesn’t darken the drink. If you can’t find unaged white whiskey, use white rum or silver tequila.

Watermelon
3 cups diced small + a little for garnish

Grapefruit
2 softball-size

Lemon
1 fat one

Fresh mint leaves
3 + more for garnish

Agave nectar
1 tablespoon + more as needed

High West Silver Western Oat Whiskey
1/2 cup

1. Put the watermelon in a large bowl, then squeeze in 1 cup grapefruit juice and 1/4 cup lemon juice. Using a sturdy whisk, mash the mixture to a pulp. Mashing by hand is important because it will bring out all of the deliciousness of the watermelon and leave behind the tasteless pulp and seeds. Don’t use a blender. It would blend in the seeds and pulp, which would make the mixture bitter and watery. Strain the hand-mashed mixture through a fine-mesh strainer into a pitcher and discard the solids. You’ll end up with about 2 cups of liquid.

2. Using your fingers, gently slap or bruise the mint leaves and then stir them into the mixture. Stir in 1 tablespoon of the agave nectar and taste. Depending on the sweetness of your watermelon and grapefruit, you may need to add additional agave nectar to taste. You just want the sweetness of the agave to balance out the bitterness of the grapefruit and the tartness of the lemon juice.

3. To serve, stir the whiskey into the juice and pour into ice-filled glasses. Garnish with a skewer of cubed watermelon, a sliver each of lemon peel and grapefruit peel, and a mint leaf.