Watermelon is often slept on as a cocktail ingredient, but those who know know that summer’s most iconic melon adds a juicy freshness to drinks like the Mojito and Margarita. And while rum and tequila are both obvious matches for the juicy red fruit, gin works surprisingly well. The Peppermelon, from lauded San Francisco bar-owner H. Joseph Ehrmann, demonstrates this pairing well. The sweet watermelon, spicy pepper honey syrup and botanical gin base makes the Peppermelon an undeniably refreshing concoction, perfect year-round but especially on warm summer days.
The Peppermelon is an easy drink to make, and you’re likely to have all the necessary ingredients on your home bar and in your pantry and fridge. It starts with a base of London dry gin, and Ehrmann doesn’t specify a brand. Anything you like in your Gimlet or Last Word will do. Be sure to stick with a London dry style, though, rather than an Old Tom, Holland gin or other style.
For the watermelon juice, it’s best to simply squeeze an ounce with fresh watermelon, rather than wasting time finding and buying watermelon juice from the store. You can snack on the remaining watermelon while you make your drinks, making sure to reserve some cubes for the charming garnish.
The only ingredient that takes some time to prep is the black pepper honey syrup that gives the drink its signature spice, as well as its name. It requires a similar process to making the honey syrup that goes into drinks like the Bee’s Knees and Brown Derby, among other honey-sweetened cocktails. You can even use the pepper honey syrup to spice up those classics, adding a unique touch.
Once you’ve got your pepper honey syrup, watermelon juice, gin and lemon it’s time to get shaking. The drink is the perfect accompaniment to summer barbecues, cookouts, beach trips and any other time that you need a sweet, tart and peppery beverage.
- 1 1/2 ounces London dry gin
- 1 ounce watermelon juice
- 1/2 ounce lemon juice, freshly squeezed
- 3/4 ounce black pepper honey syrup*
- Garnish: watermelon cube
- Garnish: ground black pepper
Add the London dry gin, watermelon juice, lemon juice and black pepper honey syrup into a shaker with ice and shake until well-chilled.
Double-strain into a cocktail glass.
Garnish with a watermelon cube coated on one side with ground black pepper.
*Black pepper honey syrup: Add 2 tablespoons black peppercorns into a small skillet over high heat and shake gently until fragrant. Add 1 cup water, bring to a boil and cook for 3 to 5 minutes. Strain into a measuring cup and add enough additional water to bring the measure to 1 cup. Add 1 cup honey and stir until dissolved. The syrup will keep, sealed and refrigerated, for up to 1 week.