Cocktail season is coming! Ahem, I mean the holiday season is coming, but it's kind of the same thing in my book. This is the time of year when I start to move away from beer when I'm out and go for a festive cocktail instead. I like it fruity and I like festive colours, so this watermelon cocktail - or the Red, White & Green I'm calling it - totally hits the mark for me. The 'white' comes from white rum and white vinegar the 'green' comes from the fresh garnishes, and the 'red' is represented by an easy-to-make watermelon shrub.
Also called drinking vinegar, a shrub is a simple and old-fashioned way of preserving fruit. It's a simple syrup with added vinegar, essentially, and when mixed into a cocktail it brightens and heightens the flavours. It doesn't taste like you're drinking vinegar. It tastes like your fruity drink just got an extra layer of tartness.
Shrubs are really hot right now in bars and restaurants. I've seen everything from ginger, mint, basil, rhubarb, rosemary and plum going into shrubs and they're actually quite simple to make at home. Healthy and versatile watermelon makes a gorgeous melon-flavoured shrub.
You don't have to enjoy cocktails to enjoy a shrub. Even my kids, who are pretty picky eaters and drinkers by the way, like this shrub mixed with sparkling water.
To make things extra festive this holiday season, try a lime peel ribbon on your drinks instead of a wedge. To make one, peel a thin strip from around half a lime. A tool like this one will help you do the job (use the notch bit). Then wrap around a straw or chopstick and squeeze. The ribbon will hold its shape and dress up your cocktails like a gift!
Watermelon isn't traditionally a holiday fruit in Canada, but that's because it hasn't always been available this time of year. Now, thanks to imports from the U.S., watermelon can be on the cocktail menu any time of year. And the colour is undeniably festive.
Get my simple recipe below for watermelon shrub to make your very own Red, White & Green!
A Red, White & Green Cocktail
FOR THE WATERMELON SHRUB:
2 cups (500 mL) cubed watermelon
1 cup (250 mL) white vinegar
1 3/4 cups (425 mL) granulated sugar
FOR THE COCKTAIL:
2 to 3 cubes of ice
2 tbsp (30 mL) of granulated sugar for rim
Green garnishes such as lime, cucumber, mint or basil
1 to 2 shots watermelon shrub, depending on size of glass
1 shot white rum
Tonic water to top up
PREPARE THE SHRUB AT LEAST 1 DAY AHEAD
Add the cubed watermelon to a large mason jar. Bring the vinegar almost to the boil in a small saucepan. Pour over the watermelon. Cover with a lid. Once at room temperature (about an hour), transfer to the refrigerator. Every now and then when you open the refrigerator, give the mixture a good shake.
The next day, strain the contents of the jar through a fine mesh sieve to remove and discard the solid pieces. Return the liquid to the jar. Pour in the sugar. Put the lid back on and shake occasionally until the sugar is dissolved (about 10 minutes). Use right away or refrigerate up to 2 weeks. Makes enough for at least a dozen cocktails.
PREPARE A RED, WHITE & GREEN COCKTAIL
Pour a little of the shrub onto a small side plate. Pour the sugar onto another side plate. Rim the cocktail glass by dipping it into the shrub and then the sugar. Add ice cubes to the glass. Add chosen green garnishes to the glass. Pour in the shrub measures and rum measure. Top up with tonic. Stir gently. Garnish with watermelon wedge. Serve immediately.
What cocktails will you be enjoying over the holidays? Do you have a favourite cocktail? Leave a comment and share your holiday cocktail ideas.
Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Watermelon.org. I am being paid to develop and photograph this recipe.