It is a sad fact that us Brits cannot cope with hot weather. It’s just not in our DNA. The sun pokes it head through our normally grey sky and suddenly men and women are wearing outrageously inappropriate clothing on public transport, as their exposed shoulders gently turn the colour of cooked lobsters. People whose usual idea of cooking is to pop a pizza in the oven decide that they are expert BBQ chefs, donning aprons with smutty slogans on and giving everyone food poisoning by sloshing the marinade used for the raw meat all over the bits that are cooked.
Our rail tracks buckle, our parks frazzle and no shop can keep up with the demand for ice. That picnic with your family in the park that sounded like such a great idea rapidly unravels into a bitch-fest as people get cramp, get stung, get bored and get drunk. It’s not pretty.
Fortunately, there are alternatives to these potential hazards of summertime. Deciding that hot pants are not a great look for the office and avoiding any picnic without waiter service are a good start.
More positive still is to have a really cracking summer cocktail up your sleeve which is both delicious and genuinely refreshing. The ubiquitous Aperol Spritz is still alive and kicking (although when hideous chain pubs start serving it, it might be a sign to move on), but I urge you to try this absolutely delicious concoction of watermelon, mint and vodka, given to me several years ago by the Head Barman of the, now sadly defunct, Boxwood Cafe in London. It is so simple it barely warrants a recipe but this is a cooking blog so I need to give you one, just to make myself feel useful.
Watermelon really does live up to its name as it is made up of about 92% water. This is very important for summer drinking, as it’s mainly dehydration caused by alcohol consumption that gives you that awful headache at about 4pm on a Saturday afternoon after deciding to drink rose wine from midday onwards. The water content in the watermelon in this recipe will help mitigate this. I only say help, not eliminate so please drink responsibly, keep hydrated, blah, blah, blah.
The mint in this recipe is a brilliant compliment to the watermelon and makes the drink doubly refreshing. Temperature is key so make sure everything is as cold as possible before you partake.
You can make this martini in a cocktail shaker if you want to look very efficient but this method means you can make a whole jug at a time, which can only be a good thing for everyone.
Watermelon and Mint Martini
400g watermelon, roughly chopped into chunks
Handful of mint leaves
200ml good quality vodka
Watermelon slices for garnish
If you have a juicer, juice the mint and watermelon together. If not, blend the watermelon and mint in a blender or with a hand held blender until smooth. Strain through a fine sieve. Chill the juice until it is ice cold.
Add the vodka, stir and serve in chilled martini glasses, with a slice of watermelon on the side.