Try a Cantaloupe Coastal Breeze Cocktail
A cocktail expert shakes up a lower-proof drink featuring ripe melon, tangy lemon, dry sherry, and just a splash of gin. Welcome to your weekend!
Photos by Brittany Conerly
At Yummly we’re big fans of the trend in lower-proof cocktails, also known as low-ABV, where you get to sip something tasty that’s not overly boozy. With that and the flavors of juicy late-summer cantaloupe in mind, we asked Nahiel Nazzal, a restaurant and cocktail expert in San Francisco, if she could create a special summer cocktail just for us. She obliged with this beautifully balanced melon cocktail drink recipe. Enjoy it strained or on the rocks. Cheers. — Elaine Johnson, Senior Content Editor
Every recipe has a story, and this fresh melon cocktail is no exception. I am a huge fan of sherry, particularly Manzanilla, on warm days like we’ve been having lately. A wine made from the Palomino grape, fino sherry comes from the southwest region of Spain, and Manzanilla, more specifically, comes from a town called Sanlucar de Barrameda. Manzanilla is a clean, crisp white wine that has subtle herbaceous notes and a salty undertone. I’ve been adding sherry to a lot of my cocktail recipes over the last few years, and it’s become my favorite ingredient to work with.
When discussing using melon as the highlight for this cocktail, one of the first things I thought about was melon and prosciutto. A summertime dish that’s refreshing, salty, and delicious. Refreshing and salty. Two things I love in a drink. Gin, another favorite of mine, I have found works really well with sherry, as it offers herbaceous notes that not only complement sherry, but add to it as well. With all the botanicals you can find in gin, incorporating an herb like fresh thyme into the cocktail brings about that woodsy, floral, and citrus punch that highlights the sherry and gin together. Lastly, the tartness of lemon and a pinch of salt, influenced by the prosciutto idea and coastal climate flavors of Manzanilla, round out the cocktail, creating a balanced, dry, and savory drink. Salute!
What’s in a melon cocktail?
Here are the ingredients you need to make the Cantaloupe Coastal Breeze Cocktail. You should be able to pick up everything with a swing by a grocery store and a drinks store like BevMo.
Manzanilla sherry. A special kind of fino sherry (a crisp, dry, and nutty Spanish white wine), Manzanilla comes from Sanlucar de Barrameda in southwest Spain. It has subtle herbaceous notes and a salty undertone. If you can’t find it, you can use another Spanish fino sherry or dry sherry.
London dry gin. This is the classic gin distilled with botanicals like juniper and sometimes citrus for a bright flavor. Common brands are Tanqueray and Beefeater.
Ripe cantaloupe — or Galia melon. Look for an orange melon with good fragrance, either a regular fresh cantaloupe, Tuscan-style, or perhaps a Charentais if you’re at the farmers’ market. The cocktail is also amazing made with a Galia melon, a sweet green variety that looks similar to a cantaloupe on the outside.
Thyme and lemon. Fresh herbs and citrus are essential for this cocktail’s depth of flavor.
Sugar, salt, and ice cubes
In addition to regular kitchen equipment, you’ll need a blender or juicer, cocktail jigger (or tablespoon measure), cocktail shaker with strainer, and a glass. I like to use a coupe glass, but another small glass is fine.
How to make a melon cocktail: prepping your ingredients
The only time-consuming parts of this recipe are simmering the fresh thyme simple syrup and letting it cool, and blending or juicing the melon. I like to do both the day before, then leave them in the fridge to have ready for cocktails. This saves a ton of prep time when you want to make your drink, and then the cocktail comes together in about 10 minutes. Note, though, that if you have a juicer and juice the fruit at the last minute, you’ll get a lovely froth.
You’ll have enough cantaloupe purée or cantaloupe juice for 10 cocktails (it’s great with sparkling water, too) and it keeps a few days. Be sure to stir it before using. The thyme syrup makes enough for about 5 drinks and it keeps for a week.
Ready to give the drink a try?
More summer sipping
There's still plenty of summer weather left, and we have loads of options on Yummly for refreshing cocktails and mocktails to cool you off. Maybe you're in the mood for a classic daiquiri, mojito, or margarita. Or how about a drink using some of that tequila, Cointreau, or agave nectar you have on hand? You could consider a fruit cocktail, perhaps a Blackberry Smash, Blueberry Old Fashioned Cocktail, Italian Raspberry Cocktail, or Honeydew Dream. You're thinking no-proof? Let us recommend a watermelon mocktail made with fresh lime juice and fresh mint leaves. You can explore even more options in these articles!