The weeks surrounding the 4th of July feel to me like the pinnacle of summer, days well spent with friends and restful moments lounging poolside or in a hammock with book, always with something delicious within reach. The farmers markets are overflowing and it's hard to keep up to get a taste of everything while it's here. These days I crave drinks like this one, which we'll call Hello Summer, that celebrate summer flavors. This cocktail brings together watermelon and cilantro with tequila and Lillet Blanc. It's as bright and beautiful as it is light and refreshing, a lovely way to bask in the season. I love the way the Lillet Blanc softens the tequila and rounds out the sweetness of the watermelon juice while still capturing the peppery citrus in the cilantro. Puree a batch of watermelon juice and freeze for your next get together. -Mallory
5 fresh cilantro sprigs
1/2 ounce lime juice
2 ounces watermelon juice*
1 1/2 ounce tequila (100% agave)
1 ounce Lillet Blanc
1/4 ounce agave nectar
dash of salt
salt, black pepper, and chili powder for rim
additional cilantro for garnish
*For the watermelon juice, use a seedless watermelon or remove any seeds before processing. Simply puree watermelon chunks in a food processor or blender until smooth. The juice will be textured and naturally separate. I prefer the texture, but you can strain out the solids if desired. Make a quart or two of watermelon juice to keep in the refrigerator for Agua Frescas. Use the juice within a few days or freeze for future drinks. You can add a dash of salt to balance out the cocktail and spice up the salted rim with a little bit of chili powder and black pepper.
To make this cocktail, find your favorite rocks glass or any kind of small tumbler. Wet the rim of your glass with water (or lime juice juice) then salt the rim by dipping it into the small plate of salt sprinkled with ground black pepper and chili powder. Fill the glass with ice and set aside.
Place cilantro sprigs and lime juice in a cocktail shaker. Muddle the cilantro to release the oils then add watermelon juice, tequila, Lillet Blanc, agave nectar, and a dash of salt. Add a scoop of ice, then shake the cocktail vigorously for at least a minute. Strain into your prepared glass and garnish with a sprig of cilantro.