This week has been a little strange. I’ve been feeling very nostalgic lately. I have been transported to past days through flowers from hubs (wild flowers make me think of running through the open fields at home with the neighborhood kids), music (old school Jason Mraz always brings me back to spring time at Luther College) and this season’s fresh foods, specifically watermelon.
Watermelon began to appear in local grocery stores just this week and I am ecstatic! There is something so comforting about eating a wedge of juicy watermelon and spitting the seeds as far as you can while soaking up the hot sunshine. Simple pleasures.
Without letting go of the memories associated with watermelon, wild flowers and Jason Mraz, I decided to create a grown-up beverage showcasing the fresh flavor of watermelon with a Japanese twist using shiso. Shiso is a common herb found in Japanese cuisine and holds a fresh flavor with hints of mint, anise, and ginger. It takes very little to impart the herbal flavor into foods and beverages, so I simply cut the leaves into strips and placed them on top of this cocktail. From the moment the glass touches your lips, the scent of the effervescent shiso brings an unexpected and welcome twist.
I am lucky enough to have two shiso plants of my very own, given to me by Marcus and Mieko from JapanEats.tv as a housewarming gift. Thanks to you both for introducing me to such a fabulous ingredient and giving me inspiration for this light, refreshing cocktail! Kampai!
Makes 2 drinks
2 cups watermelon, seeded and cubed
4 oz. chilled vodka
4 oz. apple juice
2 shiso leaves, cut into strips
In a blender, add the watermelon and vodka. Pulse until smoothie-like (no chunks of watermelon left). Add the apple juice and pulse two or three times to combine. Pour into two glasses filled with ice and top with a splash of ginger ale and sprinkle with the shiso strips.