Louisa Shafia's Watermelon, Mint, and Cider Vinegar Tonic

Test Kitchen-Approved

Author Notes:

Even if drinking vinegar sounds like a dare -- and maybe that's why you ordered it -- it's anything but. It's sweet and sour and icy-cold. It vibrates and clangs with fruit and vinegar, and soothes with sweetness and mint. It is the most refreshing drink you will have this summer. And because it's a grown-up drink without alcohol, you can take it on a picnic, at any park, without having to look side-eyed at cops that might pass by. From The New Persian Kitchen (Ten Speed Press, 2013).

Genius Recipes

Makes: 5 cups concentrate


  • 3 cups water, plus more to serve
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 cup honey
  • 6 cups coarsely chopped watermelon
  • 1 cup tightly packed fresh mint
  • 1 cup cider vinegar
  • Ice cubes
  • Sliced watermelon, sliced unwaxed cucumber, and spearmint, for garnish
In This Recipe


  1. Bring the 3 cups water and the salt to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add the honey, stir to dissolve, and remove from the heat.
  2. Combine the watermelon and mint in a large bowl. Stir in the honey-water and let cool to room temperature, then add the vinegar. Steep the mixture in the refrigerator for several hours or up to overnight.
  3. Strain the mixture and eat the watermelon chunks, if desired. Pour the concentrate into a clean glass jar, and store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
  4. To serve, pour 1/4 cup of the concentrate into a glass over ice and dilute with 3/4 cup water. Garnish with the watermelon, cucumber, and mint.

More Great Recipes:
Fruit|Honey|Melon|Mint|Vinegar|Make Ahead|5 Ingredients or Fewer|Serves a Crowd|Memorial Day|Father's Day|Fourth of July|Summer

Reviews (33) Questions (1)

33 Reviews

MiChal July 10, 2018
I just had my first sip. I love shrubs. This one is super easy, and has a light and delicious flavor. This recipe is a great use of a bland watermelon. I had to use agave syrup for this batch so my guess is this batch os a bit less sweet.
JessieV May 28, 2018
It's in the fridge right now - SOOOOO excited! thank you!
Chris May 25, 2018
Thanks so much, Kristen!
Chris May 25, 2018
I would hate to waste 6 cups of peaches plus the other ingredients if it wasn't recommended to use them. Does the author or anyone know for sure if I could use thawed peaches for this recipe?
Kristen M. May 25, 2018
Chris, it sounds delicious, but 2 things to keep in mind—1) peaches are more acidic than watermelon, so you'll want to tweak the sweetness and dilution to taste. 2) The peaches will be softer after they thaw, so you won't have the same fresh texture if you want to try and garnish the drink with it—but that shouldn't be a problem for the tonic itself.
Chris May 25, 2018
I have a ton of frozen peaches...would this work with them after they have thawed out?
Beth G. May 25, 2018
It's worth a try!
breakbread July 6, 2016
I have all the ingredients except for honey. Has anyone done a substitute with cane sugar or maple syrup?
Beth G. May 25, 2018
No but I don't see why it wouldn't work.
MiChal July 10, 2018
I used agave because I needed to get rid of it. Worked out fine, although it might not be as sweet.
M.B. August 15, 2015
This is fabulous and refreshing. It mixes well with a nip of vodka and a squeeze of lime. And the leftover watermelon mixed with red onion and pickled jalapenos makes a wonderful salsa!
[email protected] July 13, 2014
Live on St.Croix - Mint doesn't thrive and what one can purchase usually is expensive and tastes like weeds. So I used Thai Holy Basil and Rice Vinegar. It was delicious. Still looking forward to trying it with some fresh mint.
Christen May 20, 2014
I made this for a wedding shower, since the bride was having stomach issues and we wanted a fun adult drink, without the alcohol and with as much healing power as possible. I didn't tell the guests that of course...and EVERYONE RAVED ABOUT IT. Everyone wanted the recipe and I wish I made twice as much!<br /><br />It's delicious at full strength, so I adjusted the ratio to 1/2 concentrate, 1/2 plain seltzer water with ice as well. And it was heavenly.
ashley August 13, 2013
Because I have an autoimmune liver disease I cannot drink alcohol anymore. I stumbled upon this recipe yesterday while searching for something not too sweet, unique and grown up tasting to drink with my friends and family while they booze it up. This is it. It's delicious, refreshing and I don't feel like I'm drinking a soda (because I'm not!). Thanks so much for sharing. I'll be making this with various different fruits throughout the year. I (and my liver!) appreciate it so much. :)
Beth G. August 12, 2013
This is insanely delicious & refreshing. i usually make mine closer to 50/50 concentrate/water. Heck, I drank some of the concentrate straight up. It's THAT good! Off now to make another batch...
daisybrain August 3, 2013
On my way to bed and I've had a few. I do believe this will be the cure for what ails me. Man that hits the spot.
aliciaa July 31, 2013
The best! I made this for a party in Seattle on a hot summer day and it was the hit of the party. So much nicer than just serving fruit juice or water for a non-alcoholic choice.
Lyn C. July 26, 2013
Making my 3rd batch now. Love this as I hate plain water. Very satisfying.
clintonhillbilly July 11, 2013
Just made my first batch-- it's terrifically refreshing, thank you! Any variations with other fruit you suggest?
Kristen M. July 11, 2013
Glad you liked it! Louisa lists a number of variations in the post (linked below). Here's what she said: "Try adding a few slices of ginger, fresh rose petals, or a stalk of crushed lemongrass. Instead of watermelon, try cherries (including sour!), or sliced apricots, peaches, plums, or grapes." http://food52.com/blog/7203-louisa-shafia-s-watermelon-mint-and-cider-vinegar-tonic
debbie C. July 6, 2013
perhaps this? http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/paula-deen/suzies-peach-pickles-recipe/index.html<br /><br />for pickled peaches<br />
wcl July 7, 2013
YES !!!<br />this is by far the closest recipe i have ever seen to what i remember.<br />(i've looked on the internet many times but never came across this one)<br />now i just have to wait on the peaches to come in up here in canada...
Auntie L. July 6, 2013
I increased the watermelon by about 50%, and cut it into small cubes. Then after the time marinating, separated the watermelon/mint mixture into a different bowl, added a little sugar to taste (I'm in the south....) and served as a salad. Sugar wasn't really necessary, depends on how tart you like the fruit as a salad.
rsfgs July 5, 2013
Yum! This was fun to make, and a tasty introduction to shrub style drinks.
joyce.ciotti July 4, 2013
Just made this for tonight's gathering. Yum. This will likely become a traditional July 4th beverage.
Chescheir July 4, 2013
Just made this for the fourth. very refreshing and delicious!