It’s full-on barbecue season these days. The decks are cleaned off, flowers are planted, and the furniture is uncovered. So now, after all that hard work, we need a drink!
I am a big believer that a drink can make or break a dinner. Maybe I am a little picky, but why go to all the trouble of making a nice meal if you are going to serve it with gross wine or a boring cocktail?
I know that some people just don’t care enough, and no offense, but those people probably shouldn’t be a regular reader of this column as I really care about making the extra effort to cook a beautiful meal and try to serve it with something that enhances that experience.
All that said, sometimes there is nothing wrong with Budweiser. There is certainly nothing wrong with the right wine in the $12 to $15 range (sorry, but I haven’t come across anything worth drinking). But, in the summer, I often go the extra mile when I have time or for a special occasion.
The most recent special occasion was my first deck dinner party of the summer. I find that getting the yard and garden “summerized” is pretty hard and tedious work. I know a lot of people love to garden. While I love to have a garden, I love to cook but kind of hate gardening. Anyway, as a reward for all the hard gardening I had to do, I wanted to enjoy a nice dinner on the deck.
On the menu was a delicious summer salad with pickled beets, fresh carrots and a dressing made from pumpkin seed oil. Jerk chicken cooked on our Green Egg and my first potato salad of the year rounded out the dinner plate.
Then it was time to create some kind of summery drink, and what says summer more than watermelon? I really wanted to make a punch but found it hard to find a proper punch bowl. I made-do with a small green plastic container shaped kind of like a punch bowl because I really wanted to make a pretty ice mold.
Ice molds are easy and ensure that you don’t water the drink down with small ice cubes, which will melt. Be warned though: they take a long time to freeze. (Mine didn’t freeze in time with only five hours of freezer time. Make this the day before if you can.)
I loved the balance of sweet, sour and bubbly in this drink. I thought the flavor was perfect, but please taste your mix before you pour in the bubbly additions as you may need to balance the sour with more honey or vice versa.
I think you could do this same drink with many different fruits. If you would prefer something like pineapple or pink grapefruit, substitute those instead. You could also try two fruits, but be careful that it doesn’t get too sweet (maybe leave out the honey until you taste it).
Since you have gone to all this trouble to make something delicious to accompany your meal, don’t add the cheapest liquor you can get. Go for at least a $15 bottle of vodka and sparkling wine.
This drink went really well with the menu I described above. It would be nice with almost any simple grilled dinner and maybe an orzo pasta salad too.