When I wasn’t in the classroom during my college years, I was solving bigger problems; like how to smuggle alcohol into the dorms. It was in this place of higher learning that I discovered that watermelon soaks up vodka like a dry sponge. Back then, drinking was much more a means to an end, so proof was often important that palate, and yet somehow, vodka soaked watermelon managed to bring on the tipsy without sacrificing taste.
Fast forward a dozen years, and booze soaked watermelon is still one of my favorite endings to a summer picnic. It pacifies my sweet-tooth without weighing me down with a ton of butter and sugar. This Basil Watermelon Caipirina also has the added benefit of looking like a salad, for those of us that live in places with draconian open container laws.
While it isn’t a traditional Brazilian Caipirnha, all the flavours are there, and I love how the vegetal notes in the Cachaça compliment the green basil and cucumber-like flavor of the watermelon. The two lime juices add tartness, and a floral note that keeps the whole thing from tasting too sweet.
I brought this Basil Watermelon “Caipirinha” to a picnic we had on the Hudson for Independence Day along with some sausage made from acorn fed black pigs, Perlagrigia cheese with black truffles, garlic marinated roasted peppers, and a baguette. The soaking liquid made for a pre-picnic cocktail and the watermelon became dessert.
Here are a few pics of the amazing Macy’s fireworks show that lit up the entire Hudson.
Fireboat putting on a show at sunset
I handheld all these shots after consuming a bunch of the watermelon, and with exposures in the 2 second range, it’s a miracle that these didn’t turn out more blurry.
Basil Watermelon Caipirinha
12 ounces Cachaça
1/4 cup Demerara sugar (or light brown sugar)
handful of basil leaves finely chopped
1 lime juiced
1 sweet lime juiced (optional)
1 small seedless watermelon peeled and cubed (from a 3-4 pound melon)
Muddle together the Cachaça, sugar, basil and lime juices. Pour the mixture over the watermelon and let it soak overnight in the refrigerator, stirring a few times to ensure the watermelon is evenly soaked.
Serve in a bowl with some of the soaking liquid, or put it in a blender and puree for a cocktail.