Boozy Melon Is the Dessert-Cocktail Hybrid of Summer
Do you want watermelon with tequila, cantaloupe with vodka, or honeydew with gin?
Have you tried our Tequila-Soaked Watermelon Wedges yet? This recipe has been a winner on Facebook and Instagram Stories, with everyone tagging their friends to say they're going to make it. This summer it seems like drunken watermelon, whether wedges, spears, or balls, is everywhere—and for good reason. It's a dessert and a cocktail in one bite (and you don't have to feel too guilty since it's fruit!). Well, I'm here to tell you that there is a better way to enjoy the irresistible combo of booze and melon, a new customizable recipe that will delight everyone—even those who aren't watermelon fans or don't like tequila. Are you a gin and honeydew fan or a vodka and cantaloupe lover? If you do adore watermelon with tequila, you'll be pleased to know that there's a version for you (and it's better, and easier, than the original). Enter, Boozy Melon Three Ways.
I decided to stick to melon as the base when I began developing this recipe, but stone fruit like peaches and plums also work well. I reached for spirits that I knew would pair well with each fruit; citrusy tequila for watermelon, bright vodka for cantaloupe, and floral gin for honeydew. Each spirit is infused into a simple syrup that is used to soak the fruit. I experimented pairing rum with pineapple but the flavor wasn't coming through as much as I had hoped. Should you absolutely love pineapple and rum, it's still worth a try. What takes each of these three melon options so special is the herb that's used to finish the dish; mint for watermelon, basil for cantaloupe, and tarragon for honeydew. Each also gets a squeeze of fresh lime juice and a pinch of flaky sea salt to offset the sweetness of the syrup.
My favorite part of this recipe is how just easy it is: You get a big reward for a very minimal amount of effort. I found it simplest to cut the melon into cubes, but if you're feeling ambitious, break out the melon baller! The melon can be soaked up to one day ahead and left in the refrigerator to infuse until you're ready to serve. The boozy flavor will become more pronounced the longer it sits, but it won't alter the texture of the melon. I recommend keeping the fruit chilled right until you're ready to serve so your friends can enjoy all that this refreshing summer dessert has to offer!
By a landslide, the test kitchen favorite was gin-soaked honeydew. I was surprised by how much I loved this one. While a gin and tonic is my go-to drink, honeydew is not my melon of choice, and I use tarragon quite sparingly in my cooking. If you're wondering which of the three boozy melons to try first, know that all of the food editors were eating this one straight out of the pan. Maybe start here and then try the other two?