If you’re not sitting around on this fine August day wondering how to make melon vodka cocktails, then you’ve clearly never visited Strip Steak at Las Vega’s Mandalay Bay – or at least, you haven’t ordered well when you’ve been there (no offense to your ordering skills).
I’m not much for bragging, but let’s be honest: I am an excellent orderer. Exhibit A: Strip Steak’s Cucumber Martini.
Just look at that photo and tell me you’re not thirsty – and totally understanding my love affair with their mixology magic. Despite its elegant simplicity (or, more likely, because of it), this drink is knock-you-out delicious. It’s basically not fair to all the other martinis of the world.
If you’re wondering how to make one of the best melon vodka cocktails you’ve ever had (okay, the best), here’s what’s in this beverage-of-my-dreams:
- Melon-infused vodka
- Cucumber essence
- Fresh lime
So simple! And overlooking that pesky cucumber essence, it’s also simple to make at home. And so worth it. Let’s do this.
How to Make Melon Vodka Cocktails at Home
In moments like these, my stellar ordering skills become great sources of inspiration for my own future kitchen adventures. So last summer, I dug into how to make melon vodka cocktails. Excellent project.
Step 1: Cucumber Essence
The cucumber essence is involved. Because you must
- Peel the darn cucumbers
- Seed the peeled cucumbers
- Blend the peeled and seeded cucumbers
- Press the blended cucumbers through a cheese cloth
But if you have a Vitamix or Magic Bullet, you’re in luck: you can peel and seed the cucumbers and pulverize them in your high-performance blender. This eliminates any pulp, so you won’t need to press the blended cucumber through a cheese cloth.
The incredibly patient bartenders at Strip Steak go through the whole cheese cloth process. But I just put the cukes in my Bullet and say you’re welcome, everyone.
If you don’t even want to break out your best blender, you can also buy cucumber essence. I make my own, so I won’t link out to any recommended products, but Google will help you find something tasty. Wasn’t that easy?
Whatever route you choose, the result is fantastically refreshing and flavorful. There’s no water added, so you’ve basically just created cold, pressed cucumber.
In fact, you might be surprised at the color when you’re done: there’s so much water in cucumbers that once you remove the peels and seeds, the resulting beverage is often completely clear.
Don’t you love cocktails that go with everything?
Step 2: Melon Vodka Infusion
Any infused vodka pretty much follows the same process.
For your melon vodka cocktails, the infusion is incredibly easy: just dump a bunch of melon into a bunch of vodka.
If people are going to see your infusion in action, then you’ll want to cube your melon nicely, place it in attractive vessels, and pour the vodka over it.
But if you’re making huge quantities, like I do for our big 4th-of-July party at the lakehouse, you can just toss your melon mess into buckets – big chunks, juice, seeds, everything but the skin – and add your vodka.
When it’s ready to go, you simply strain it.
When’s that, you ask? It’s really up to you. Once you’ve combined the melon and vodka, just set it out and let it do its thing. The longer you wait, the more flavor it will have. But I’ve made it the day before a party, and it still turns out delicious.
I usually put the booze in a large beverage dispenser with a spigot. This way, it looks prettier, people can see what they’re pouring, and they don’t end up with melon chunks in their drinks.
A random smattering of other tips on this process:
- I like the combo of honeydew and cantaloupe, but there are so many amazing melons out there these days. Play around and find your favorite combos!
- As with any produce-centric treat, seasonality matters. Peak melon season is late summer / early fall, so plan your infusion around that season for the most flavorful results.
- Assuming you’re taking this advice and grabbing juicy, in-season fruit, be sure to chop your melon on a cutting board with a trough, so you can retain all that wonderful juice and add it to your infusion without losing a drop of flavor.
- Your infused vodka will keep for a very long time, so making it in one season doesn’t mean you won’t get to enjoy it in the next. (Although you won’t, in point of fact, because there won’t be any left.)
- Oddly, when you’re infusing vodka, the better the vodka is, the less flavor you’ll get from the infusion. So use SKYY, Absolut, or another lower-end vodka.
Once you’ve learned how to make melon vodka, you’ve basically learned how to make any infused vodka. And there are a million different varieties you can try! Berries. Grapefruit. Pineapple – which is one of the easiest thanks to its juiciness.
Sidenote on the pineapple front: a bartender at the Capital Grille invented the Stoli Doli back in 1990, and he’s been on my list of cleverest people ever since. Stolichnaya Vodka infused with fresh pineapple, chilled and served straight up. They crank through that stuff like it’s made of gold, and so will you when you infuse it at home.
Step 3: Assemble Your Melon Vodka Cocktail
Once you’ve gone through the effort of making both your vodka and your cucumber essence, you will need nothing more than a bit of chilling and a squeeze of lime to mimic our favorite Strip Steak treat.
But should you want to mix things up a bit down the road, try this:
- Fill your glass half full with pink lemonade (more if you like things sweet)
- Top it off with melon vodka
- Add a squirt of cucumber essence (but only a squirt, because you worked your buns off on that stuff)
- Garnish with a sprig of fresh basil.
Beautifully festive & delish.
One 4th of July, I did this as a DIY buffet. Huge batch of melon vodka in beverage dispensers. Pitchers of cucumber essence and pink lemonade. Vases full of fresh herbs. It looked so cute and inviting!
Yes, a melon vodka cocktail buffet. Wanna come over?