Watermelon Drinks for Steamy Workdays, Picnics, and Everything in Between

May 31, 2016

There are a lot of summertime shindigs coming up—and also really hot nights, and steamy afternoons in a cubicle or corner office. Before you buy up all of Beyoncé's watermelon water to guzzle constantly (with or without tequila added), consult this list of drinks where cooling watermelon is the main ingredient: There's bound to be one to suit your every style and mood.

For a 3 P.M. Weekday Pick-Me-Up

Chris Van Houten dreamt up this recipe after ordering and ordering and ordering a similar lemonade at Cosi. The lemonade is not shy on the heat—one whole habanero goes in—but there’s enough sweetness and fruitiness to take you as close to the sunshine as you can get in your cubicle.

For Barbecues and Pool Parties Where You’re Trying to Show Off

This cocktail is a little like a spicy watermelon margarita—but with a welcome roundness from the floral Lillet Blanc. To make it, muddle cilantro and lime and then shake them together with fresh watermelon juice, tequila, and Lillet Blanc. Drink it from a frosty glass with a salty, spicy rim—preferably by the pool.

For Farm Picnics and Post-Strawberry Picking

This is the most grown-up watermelon lemonade should ever be: Gin, instead of the expected vodka, plus rosemary gives it a minerally flavor—and the watermelon is pureed instead of strained, so it’s really more like a boozy watermelon lemonade slushie. Serve on a patch of grass, preferably out of Mason jars with ants crawling up them (just kidding about the ants—but not about the patch of grass).

For After a Jog (or a Very Fast Walk)

The vinegar in this genius herbaceous tonic makes it sour and soothing at the same time—the definition of thirst-quenching.

For Getting Through the “Too Hot to Breathe” Nights

For those nights when the heat won’t relent, there’s this intense drink—it breathes fire in the form of a Chinese five-spice syrup, but refreshes with all that watermelon.

For Bridal Showers and Toddlers' Birthdays

Watermelon + lemonade = the drink you want to guzzle all through an afternoon party. Merrill first had this combo at her bridal shower. When you make it, maybe it will have a little gin, vodka, or Champagne in it. And even if it doesn’t, a big pitcher of it on any buffet will keep on giving.

For Every Other Time

If there was one watermelon cocktail to whip up for a Thursday night, a brunch, a pool party, or a barbecue, this would be it. Trade a classic Paloma's grapefruit for watermelon, and you have this: bubbly, light, citrusy, and amenable to big batching. Phew!

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How do you drink your watermelon? Give us the recipe in the comments.

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Becko
  • luvcookbooks
Editor/writer/stylist. Author of I Dream of Dinner (so You Don't Have To). Last name rhymes with bagel.


Becko August 26, 2017
Here in the Balcans we drink it with Ouzo. Just juice your watermelon with some ice and add 50ml of ouzo (or more to taste). Herbs like mint are an option, but really not a necessity - it's perfect as it is.
luvcookbooks June 1, 2016
As a 4th year medical student, I spent two months in Ecuador. While on mobile mission to the coast (hot, humid, no air conditioning) I Met my first watermelon drink. We were so hot and tired. Our driver, who lived in Ecuador, stopped and got us delicious watermelon slush. Watermelon drinks are the eidos of refreshing and always remind me of that hot afternoon.