I realized yesterday that I have yet to give you a rundown on Driggstock 2013, and for that, I apologize. While attending three days of Widespread Panic concerts wasn’t exactly my jam, I have to admit that the event was a roaring success. We had an unbeatable group, the weather was almost perfect, and most importantly, my Chipotle Mac and Cheesegot rave reviews. I also learned many invaluable lessons on how best to survive a weekend of Widespread, such as:
1. Always get snacks before the second set. There is nothing worse than going to get pizza because you’re hungry and tired of noodling and realizing the vendor is closed. Nothing.
2. Feel free to take a nap on the grass if you feel like it during the show. Lots of people do it.
3. Dress warmly and in tie-dye. Turns out I don’t hate Widespread as much when I’m warm and being frequently complimented by hippies on my tie-dye onesie. (Hippie compliments are the best. I think it’s because you know they really mean them.)
While getting through the concerts was tricky, I actually found that I had to be even more strategic when it came to surviving the day-to-day activities of Driggstock. For better or for worse, I am not equipped to handle three full days of partying anymore. While most of the Driggstock crew had no problem playing lawn games and sipping cocktails from 10am until show time, I seriously struggled. I never learned how to throw a Frisbee or bean bags, and if I had started drinking at 10am, I would have been dirt napping by sunset at the latest. Therefore, I had to find alternative ways to keep myself entertained during the day.
Unsurprisingly, many of the activities I came up with involved cocktail creation of some sort. If I wasn’t going to spend all day actually drinking, I figured I may as well spend my time preparing to drink, and I had all kinds of ideas! My first experiment was vodka-infused gummy bears, which were delicious. (Recipe: Put gummy bears in bowl. Cover with vodka. Wait 2-3 days until bears get fat and have soaked up all the booze). The gummy bears were such a success, that one person even suggested that I give up this blog to devote myself full-time to infusing various candy with vodka. While I’m not ready to do that just yet, I’m definitely keeping the idea in my back pocket. It’s always good to have a Plan B.
The gummy bears were fun, but my second cocktail creation was the real winner, and much more practical…The Sparkling Watermelon Punch Bowl. I’d been wanting to make a giant watermelon punch bowl for a while, and since I had the time, two watermelons, and plenty of vodka left over from my drunken gummy bears, I decided to do just that. The combination of watermelon juice, vodka, lime and club soda is a beautiful thing, and serving it scorpion bowl-style in the watermelon was a stroke of genius.
I feel like there should be a slow motion video of me carrying the very first Sparkling Watermelon Punch Bowl out onto the porch at Driggstock, preferably to the tune of “Rock You Like a Hurricane.” I plopped that bad boy on the table with 26 straws in it, and people really went to town. It warmed my heart to see so many friends come together to share that alcoholic watermelon. Germs and decorum be damned, everyone happily took down that cocktail like it was the world’s finest scorpion bowl. Which it was.
Sparkling Watermelon Punch is hands-down my new favorite summer cocktail, and I plan on making it many more times this season. It’s light, refreshing and the perfect balance of sweet and tart. If you aren’t familiar with watermelon juice, it is awesome. In addition to being my favorite shade of bright pink, it’s full of antioxidants, vitamin B, potassium and calcium, which will give your vodka a nice, healthy kick. Watermelon juice is also 97% water, which keeps you hydrated while you consume your booze, and thanks to the fruit’s natural sweetness, this punch doesn’t need any added sugar. You know I’m all about cocktails that are hangover and beach body-friendly.
Obviously, the most fun part about Sparkling Watermelon Punch is the watermelon punch bowl. The whole thing is incredibly convenient. Serving the punch in the watermelon itself is cute and kitschy (prepare for compliments), and it means that you don’t have to clean and/or buy an actual punch bowl. And let’s be honest, unless they’re Baccarat, most punch bowls are tacky. Fact.
This Sparkling Watermelon Punch Bowl is also incredibly versatile. You can go trashy or classy with the idea based on your mood and entertaining aesthetic. Pool party, late-night rager, or generally fratty scene? Grab straws and go the scorpion bowl route. Classy brunch, picnic, or casual summer dinner party? Ladle punch from the bowl into individual glasses garnished with lime slices and fresh mint. Civilized! Either way, this punch is a guaranteed crowd-pleaser. Oh, and if you’re one of those people who has children at your parties, you can easily keep the punch bowl virgin and just add vodka to individual servings. Sometimes my kid-friendliness astounds me.
If you’re thinking that a Sparkling Watermelon Punch Bowl seems like a lot of work, you’re wrong. It takes all of five minutes to hollow out the watermelon, and about five more to puree and strain it. The only time consuming element of the recipe is squeezing the limes (if you are lucky enough to have an assistant, I suggest making them do it), but even that part isn’t so bad, and it’s good for your forearm muscles. You can also make this punch in advance and keep the punch bowl covered in the fridge until your partay. Just make sure to wait to add the club soda until right before serving. Duh. Happy summer cocktailing, friends! Get after it.
Sparkling Watermelon Punch Bowl: (Serves 12)
Preparing your Sparkling Watermelon Punch Bowl:
-Slice the top sixth of your watermelon lengthwise using a sharp knife. (Don’t worry if it’s not exactly a sixth. Just cut a “lid” off that exposes enough of the melon to hollow it out easily, okay?) Please do this sober.
-Scoop out the flesh of the watermelon until the rind is left with minimal pink showing.
-In a blender or food processor, puree the watermelon in batches. Strain the puree through a fine mesh strainer, and discard the solids. You should be left with about 9 cups of watermelon juice.
-Pour the watermelon juice back into the watermelon punch bowl. Add the vodka, lime juice and club soda and stir to combine.
-To serve your Sparkling Watermelon Punch Bowl:
1. Go trashy: Add ice to your sparkling watermelon punch bowl along with as many straws as you like. Get your friends. Get weird.
- 1 oblong seedless watermelon (about 8 pounds)
- 3 cups vodka of your choice (I recommend Tito’s)
- ¾ cup fresh lime juice
- 2 cups club soda
- For garnish: (optional)
- Fresh mint
- Lime slices
- Slice the top sixth of your watermelon lengthwise using a sharp knife. (Don’t worry if it’s not exactly a sixth. Just cut a “lid” off that exposes enough of the melon to hollow it out easily, okay?) Please do this sober.
- Scoop out the flesh of the watermelon until the rind is left with minimal pink showing.
- In a blender or food processor, puree the watermelon in batches. Strain the puree through a fine mesh strainer, and discard the solids. You should be left with about 9 cups of watermelon juice.
- Pour the watermelon juice back into the watermelon punch bowl. Add the vodka, lime juice and club soda and stir to combine.
- Go trashy: Add ice to your sparkling watermelon punch bowl along with as many straws as you like. Get your friends. Get weird.
- Go classy: Ladle punch over ice and garnish with fresh mint and lime slices.
I’m very excited to be a part of Food Network’s Summer Fest this week. For more delicious recipes featuring watermelon, check out the amazing blogs below.