When I was up in Syracuse over the 4th of July I had to make a quick grocery store run for a few camp essentials (corn on the cob, hamburger buns, etc.)
If you’ve been reading for any length of time you know about my extreme love affair with Wegmans. I once attended a Les Mills training where we were asked to write down the name of a “lovemark”- something we engage emotionally with. I proudly shared that mine was Wegmans. Then the girl after me announced that hers was her two young children.
(To be fair, we were told to choose a BRAND, so this girl was not following the rules. But I still felt like a dummy.)
But on this particular Sunday morning I was going for speed and not for pleasure, and there’s another grocery store (Tops) about 3 minutes from my parents’ house that I knew wouldn’t be quite as much of a madhouse as my beloved Wegs. I immediately knew I had made a fatal error when I walked in and saw that watermelons were $8.99.
For reference, in case you haven’t been regularly indulging in this summer fruit, I can get a watermelon at Harris Teeter for $2.99.
Like any other grocery store, Tops has a rewards program for discounts on certain items. I made an assumption that one or both of my parents would have said rewards card and that I could use one of their phone numbers at checkout, rendering the watermelon $4.99. Still a ripoff, but I could deal.
I soon discovered in the self-checkout line that neither of their phone numbers worked. Nor did my friend Sarah’s, or my mom’s friend Nancy’s. Clearly they are also Wegmans loyalists.
At this point the high school kid designated to work the self-checkout line to help old people and morons came to my rescue and just scanned his card so I could save the $8 on my grocery order.
This is just a long-winded story to explain why spending $9 on a watermelon is never a good idea. No matter what tricks you use (knocking, checking for the yellow spot) they are unpredictable. I’ve gotten a watermelon that tasted fermented, some that are mealy, some that are clearly NOT seedless, and most recently one that just wasn’t sweet.
You can even tell here that it was… pale.
But never one to waste produce, I decided I had to turn this into something.
I’m in a phase of my life now where seeing mocktails on a menu makes me happy. It’s not all that complicated- they are usually some combination of fruit juice, club soda or Sprite, and a fancy garnish to trick you into thinking it is worth $7.
So I’m making my own!
4 oz lemon basil simple syrup
8 oz fresh watermelon juice
12 oz seltzer
serve over crushed ice with lemon slices
Normally simple syrup is made with equal parts water and sugar, but because watermelon is already inherently sweet I made mine with 1 cup water and 1/4 cup sugar. Plus the zest and juice of one lemon, and a handful of basil leaves. Simmer until the sugar is fully dissolved, then set aside to cool.
Run the watermelon through a blender or food processor, and then pour through a fine mesh strainer.
I ended up with about 4 cups of watermelon juice.
Once the syrup has cooled, assemble your dranks!
It tastes bright and summery, with a hint of carbonation from the seltzer, but isn’t overly sweet. My non-pregnant husband gave it a 10/10. I think the slightly savory basil notes are key here, and Louise agrees.
JK she actually wishes I would stop holding food up with her in the background if she’s not going to get to sample any of it.