Cocktail Friday: Watermelon-Shiso Cooler

by Tokyo Terrace on May 7, 2010

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 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!

Watermelon-Shiso Cooler
Makes 2 drinks

2 cups watermelon, seeded and cubed
4 oz. chilled vodka
4 oz. apple juice
ginger ale
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.

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  • momgateway

    Have you tried shiso tempura? I used to make it often when I lived in Japan. I have no access to shiso here in the U.S. so I miss it a lot!

  • Allison

    that looks yummy! I was just asking myself “what is that strange pointy leaf she has there?” and then I continued reading… shiso… very interesting! Did I have any of that while we were there? can't recall.

  • hannamyluv

    I grew shiso in my garden last year here in the States. I was pleasantly surprised this year when it reseeded itself and came back all on its own. So far, i have only used it in sushi, but I will have to give this recipe a try.

  • Sue

    I have to find some shiso. It sounds so perfect with this drink. I like adding any ginger ale or seltzer FIRST at the bottom of the glass, then…no stirring necessary!

  • Scootabaker

    for a second there I thought these were bloody mary’s cause god knows I could use a couple of those right now! But than again, these have vodka, so I’d be just fine! I’ve had watermelon margaritas and they were friggin fabuuulous, so I find that watermelon juice is under utilized. You’re so creative, and pretty. I like you!
    btw- I may too be visiting Minneapolis soon with the boyfriend. He hails from MM, so maybe, just maybe, we’ll bump into you!


  • Elie Fournier

    this is an ideal drink on days like the ones we are having in Miami… have an amazing weekend!

  • TokyoTerrace

    Elie: Oh goodness- if I lived in a place like Miami I would be drinking this cocktail all the time! I hope you get to try it out and let me know how you like it! If you can't find shiso, try using basil instead.

  • TokyoTerrace

    Scootabaker: I am totally obsessed with Bloody Marys. They are so yummy and especially wonderful for brunch- YUM! I've always wanted to try a watermelon margarita. Maybe this summer I will give them a taste. Wish I could share one with you in sunny LA!

  • TokyoTerrace

    Sue: Yes, adding the bubbles first is great, but I liked the visual effect of pouring it in at the end.

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