Watermelon Mint Julep

One of the reasons that I love living with Tina so much is that it’s like living in a lazily-written cartoon show from my youth — and I mean that in the most flattering way possible.

I should explain, perhaps.

Think of any kid’s show from the late 1970s through to the mid-1980s.  Now, try to remember how the good guys would hatch a plan to defeat the bad guy, one of startling complexity and extraordinary cleverness.  Did you, as the audience, ever have even the slightest insight into how the scheme got hatched?  Were you given anything that might help you understand what would happen next?  Did the whole thing strike you as a bit of a cop-out, to get the episode moving along?

Me too.  But as it turns out, it’s totally based on real life.  Take this sample exchange from a foggy recollection I have of every single episode of Scooby Doo that I’ve ever seen in my entire life:

Shaggy:  Like, that werewolf-Frankenstein-ghost-jack-o-lantern is totally outta control!  We gotta get outta here!

Scooby:  Rrats right!  Rowrf!  Etc!

Fred:  What we need to do is show that monster who they should really be afraid of!

Velma:  I have a feeling that werewolf-Frankenstein-ghost-jack-o-latern is all hair and no scare… (snaps fingers) and I know just how to prove it!

(everyone puts their heads together as dialogue descends to an inaudible whisper… star-wipe to a trap of fiendish complexity that would surely have taken weeks to construct in real life)

Now, take this exchange between Tina and I at the grocery store this afternoon:

Me:  We don’t have any leftovers in the fridge, do we?

Tina:  No, just some of the chicken and maybe a little bit of salad left.  That’s it.

Me:  Oh, and the watermelon.

Tina:  Yeah, but we’ve had that for a while now.

Me:  That’s exactly my point!  We should do something about that.

(Tina gets a far-away look on her face for a moment)

Tina:  I’ve got it.  We’ll make a chilled, Southern-style cocktail out of it.  Ever had Julep before?  You’re going to love it.

So, there you have it. Conclusive proof that Scooby Doo is actually a documentary record of intuitive thinking; and more importantly, that I have the incredible good fortune of knowing someone who can take “something about that” and translate it into a delicious beverage that’s perfectly suited to the Summer Solstice.

For those of you who’ve heard of juleps but haven’t had the chance to try one, they are not dissimilar to the suddenly-trendy mojito — a combination of liquor, mint, sugar and water.  But where the Cubans prefer their rum, the South will always prefer its brown liquors, and so Jack Daniels is a more than admirable choice.

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Watermelon Mint Julep
Makes 1 drink (as if that’s ever enough)

  • 1.5 oz bourbon or Tennessee whiskey *
  • 4 small sprigs of mint
  • 1.5 tsp powdered sugar
  • 6 oz watermelon juice
  • ice cubes

* Jack Daniels is not technically a bourbon in the truest sense of the word, however it’s awfully close.

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I suppose that it’s only right to start with the watermelon juice. Slice the rind from your watermelon and cut the fruit into chunks. Puree the watermelon in your blender until it is smooth.

Strain the watermelon juice through a wire mesh strainer and discard any solids that remain.

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Rinse a highball glass under ice cold water.  Not only is a cold glass more pleasant for the average summer time cocktail, but a wee bit of moisture will do wonders in terms of helping to smudge the muddle.

Put the mint leaves and powdered sugar into the bottom of your glass.

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Using a muddling tool (or, if you’re ghetto like we are, the handle of a fat wooden spoon) begin pounding away at the mint and sugar, turning the glass periodically to make sure that your muddling is effective and there aren’t any big mint leaves lurking, untouched, at the bottom.

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Continue muddling until the mint has been macerated and is starting to look like a leafy pulp.

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Pour in the bourbon and give it a quick stir with the sugary muddled mint. Drop a few icy clinkers into the glass and fill up the rest with your fresh watermelon juice. The obvious garnish would be a mint sprig, and frankly we just aren’t creative enough to go against the grain on that one.

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Sweet, light and still carrying a solid punch, this is the perfect concoction for an afternoon in the backyard — or more accurately, for recovering after an afternoon spent working in the backyard.

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Isn’t it amazing what you can get out of a combination of leftovers and a little bit of inspiration?  Happy for the tastebuds, good for the disposition, and even pretty good for the breath.

And best of all, there’s a half-pitcher left even while we speak.  For now, anyway.

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  • MtC

    Well, as we’ve all learned, bourbon = “Ancient Egyptian Action”, and nobody wants to get that in their julep.

    • http://www.choosy-beggars.com Mike

      The watermelon reduces the likelihood of “booze crazies”, it has been scentifically proven.

  • http://astrogirl.com Nicole

    You went to all that trouble, and then you used Jack? Tennessee Whiskey instead of bourbon? NOOOOOO!

  • http://www.eatingindallas.wordpress.com Margie

    That looks fantastic!

  • Erin

    Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

    Enjoying it like candy this minute…

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  • LolaMac

    If you’ve not tried a real mint julep (with a real bourbon, like say Makers Mark) without any added flavors, on a hot summer day you are missing out on something special.

    • http://www.choosy-beggars.com Tina

      LolaMac – absolute agreement! Mint juleps are a delicious traditional cocktail. You know what I like best about Maker’s Mark? The dripping red wax cap is adorable, and sucks me in every time. Well, that and the fact that it is a great liquor. At home we tend to buy JD more often and use it in marinades and fruity cocktails, like this one, because good bourbon I like to drink simply either neat or on the rocks.