Party planners will tell you a surefire way to get an event started in style is to offer guests a signature cocktail as they arrive. When planning my next party, I started thinking about what tastes and smells are most evocative of summertime for me, and I immediately hit on watermelon and campfires. A strange duo, perhaps, but as it turns out, a really delicious one! Infusing smoke into the watermelon using a barbeque and a packet of wood chips gives the fruit a subtle, intriguing flavour that I’m confident will make this margarita a crowd pleaser. You can even make pitchers of it ahead of time; if doing so, I’d suggest freezing some of the watermelon juice to use as ice cubes, so the flavour of the cocktails does not get diluted as the ice melts. This colourful drink would also be delicious with regular watermelon juice.
¼ seedless watermelon, rind on
1 cup wood chips for smoking
1 ½ ounces tequila
½ ounce triple sec
¾ ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
3 ounces watermelon juice (from smoked melon)
4 ice cubes
smoked sea salt to rim glass
wedge of watermelon for garnish
- Soak wood chips in water for 30 minutes. Drain and place on a sheet of tin foil; fold up edges to make a packet. Pierce holes all over the top of the packet. Place directly on top of burner of gas barbeque and preheat barbeque to very hot.
- As soon as packet begins to smoke, reduce heat in barbeque to medium (or, if possible, leave burner under packet on high and turn off other burners).
- Place watermelon, rind side down, directly on grill.
- Smoke for 30 minutes.
- Remove smoked watermelon from barbeque and cut rind off; cut flesh into pieces.
- Put watermelon flesh through juicer. Alternatively, you can also use a blender to puree the flesh, then pass it through a sieve to strain out the juice. ** Note: you can make juice ahead of time; pour it into a glass container with a tight lid and refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze for longer storage.
- To make cocktail, wipe rim of glass with a lime wedge. Put smoked salt (can use regular sea salt instead) in a saucer and press rim of glass into the dish.
- Put ice cubes, juices, tequila and triple sec into a cocktail shaker. If you don’t have one, use a Mason-style jar with a tight fitting lid. Shake for about a minute to blend well and chill the mixture slightly.
- Strain the margarita into the salt-rimmed glass and garnish with a wedge of fresh watermelon or a slice of lime.