The Powerful Spices That Go Great With Melon Cocktails

The light, sweet flavor of a sun-soaked melon brightens any table and injects healthy bits of nature into your body. But melons are far from being merely a breakfast or dessert food, and they work their magic well into the autumn season. With any luck, you'll still have year-round access to them from warm-weather regions or via the enterprising ingenuities of your local bartender. 

Melon cocktails may slide under the radar of some craft cocktail creators, but that's a major oversight. Fortunately, the round, fleshy, and juicy fruits make it easy to create your own sweet and spicy aperitifs at home.

We've come to expect, or at least not be shocked by, mixed drinks rimmed with a light dusting of complementary spices. But when it comes to melon cocktails, mixologists get way more daring. Robust flavors from earthy and zingy spices pop from the glass, transforming a gentle sipper into an enticing, robust splurge that you'll crave far past the sultry days of summer.

Cantaloupe and the three C's

Cantaloupe crops up frequently in melon-based cocktails, and it's often joined by rich, aromatic spices such as cardamom, cinnamon, and cayenne. These "three c's" of the spice world can add instant depth and complexity to otherwise light melon flavors.

Oliver's Market reveals the secrets of spicy melon cocktails with roots in Mexican street carts. The star of this fruity showcase is cilantro, the leaves of a coriander plant. Cilantro is a spice in its own right, but it is also a complex flavor that bears notes of other spices, including pepper and sage, explains Spice Islands

The Oliver Market melon cocktail uses simple syrup created from cilantro leaves and stems, as well as a melon-infused gin from fresh cantaloupe. They eventually fuse with a glorious blend of lime juice, white vermouth, water, sugar, and an unexpected flourish of cayenne pepper, which Specialty Produce describes as sweet and slightly smoky with a strong Picante bite.

Gina Chersevani, owner of two dining and drinking venues in the Union Market District of Washington, D.C., shares that cardamom makes a great addition to melon cocktails (via Washingtonian). The cardamom is mixed with juiced cantaloupe, a bourbon fizz, and Mexican cinnamon for a drink that wears well through the autumn and winter holidays.

Watermelon with a twist

Unless you live in a region that grows calebassito gourds, you may be unfamiliar with the watermelon-infused calebassito cocktail. That's because the drink gets its name from the gourd in which it's traditionally served, according to Imbibe Magazine, which shares a recipe by Anthony Zamora from the Xaman cocktail bar in Mexico City. 

You may not be able to find the gourd, but you can definitely make the drink. It uses juiced watermelon, an earthy mezcal, ginger ale, and Strega, which is an Italian liqueur created by distilling roughly 70 global spices and herbs. Lime juice and ginger ale perk things up a bit, but the added spices define this watermelon cocktail: Cardamom and black lava salt.

Diverging from other watermelon cocktails is a concoction from Country Living. Rather than using ground or grated spices, it fires up a standard watermelon margarita with the well-known spicy seeds of jalapeño peppers. 

The recipe calls for adding half a fresh jalapeño to the typical amounts of tequila and mezcal and letting it seep together for up to an hour. Then, it muddles seedless watermelon cubes in a pitcher, along with some simple syrup and lime juice. The result will be sweet and spicy, and it'll be amplified when topped off with extra jalapeño slices.