I’ve invented a new family tradition. When I say invented I use this term loosely, ok so I haven’t invented cocktail hour but I have introduced it to my family so let’s just go with that. Yes. Cocktail Hour. It’s wonderful. The inspiration behind this new tradition is of course, Ina Garten; she loves her booze and always includes a drink recipe in her shows and I love her. The Americans are big on cocktail hour; I experienced this first hand when I worked in a high end golf club in Cape Cod for the summer. At the weekends, families would come to the golf club for dinner but first they would all have a cocktail in the bar, also at the weddings I worked, cocktail hour is a big tradition before sitting down for the meal. In Ireland it’s more like every hour is cocktail hour but we don’t experiment as much as our American cousins. When bartending in the golf club I had to learn the names of lot of cocktails, Tom Collins, John Collins, Martini, Dirty Martini, extra dirty…excuse me!!! No that actually only means more olive juice before you get on my high horse with me! I used to have a big book of cocktails behind the bar and would panic when a customer asked me a drink I didn’t know. And I have tasted the dirty martini, sure I had to after serving so many of them…it’s not good, tastes like the sea but those Cape Codders went mad for them, actually Cape Codder that’s another drink, vodka and cranberry to you and I. These drinks are also very strong which points out another difference between us and the Yanks, they want their buzz strong and fast and tend to go home early, we Irish are more like marathon runners, slow, steady and less adventurous, mainly pints and single measures of gin or vodka but ultimately able to last longer.
So I decided to introduce cocktail hour to my family of a Sunday. Sundays are when we usually get together in the evening for a nice dinner and some wine, so I thought this was the perfect excuse to try out some cocktails. It started out with a jug of mojito’s a few weeks ago with mint fresh from my garden which went down extremely well, they are very refreshing and a nice change from a glass of white. Last Sunday I decided to début my watermelon mojitos, well I say mine and I mean Ina’s. You blitz up the watermelon in the food processor and that is the substitute for soda, your only mixer…Ina likes her booze! This recipe made 8 large glasses and let me tell you, 1 each is actually enough they are quite potent and let’s just say lucky the dinner had been made in advance as I don’t think I would have had the head for intense cooking! I’m definitely continuing the tradition, I decree from now on every Sunday will have cocktail hour, you should try it too, especially these watermelon babies, they will make you feel like you are on holidays with the sand between your toes rather than in your kitchen looking out at a wet miserable Irish 'summer' day!
Large bunch of Mint
About a quarter of a small watermelon, try to remove some of the pips
12 ounces Bacardai or light rum (about half of the half bottle)
1/2 cup simple syrup (disolve 1 part sugar to 2 parts water in a saucepan and allow to cool)
Juice of 3 limes
Mash the mint leaves in a mortar and pestel
Puree the watermelon in a food processor untill it is a smooth puree
Put the mashed mint in a large jug, add the puree, rum , sugar syrup and lime juice and give a good stir
Add lots of ice and also ice to the glasses and serve, garnish with a slice of lime
Serve ice cold