Watermelon Cooler with Fennel-Infused Vodka

The heat sometimes takes away our appetite and it’s a blessing considering we have avoided most of our favorite summer activities. On Sunday we played tennis for two hours, throwing our hands up and surrendering to sweat. It was fun, but towards the end I started to feel numbness in my jaw (um, what?) and we stopped to hop in the air-conditioned car and head home.

Watermelon is one of those refreshing treats that I could eat all summer, appetite or no. Even at a good barbecue with all of the sides, I always have room for one sweet wedge of watermelon. I have been craving it for weeks now and decided to pick up one, then two. They are messy and sweet and pretty pink; all good things in my book.

Fennel came as part of our CSA and I was inspired by a drink I saw from Kimberley of The Year in Food a while back where she muddled fennel and gin. I chopped up my fennel and added it to a mason jar with vodka and let the two consort overnight. I thought the sweet watermelon and licorice flavor might go well together and I think they do! Marc noticed it was missing something and suggested a squeeze of lime. I must admit that he was completely correct and the lime is essential. Lemon would work nicely, too.

You can choose whether to strain your watermelon or not. I personally enjoy the little bits of watermelon flesh that cling to the side of the glass.

Recipe: Watermelon Cooler with Fennel-Infused Vodka

Inspired by The Year in Food

Makes 6 drinks

4 C. watermelon puree (you’ll use less than 1 small watermelon)

4 oz. fennel-infused vodka (you need 1 fennel bulb and vodka-make the night before)

1 1/2 limes, juiced

1. Pour 1 1/2-2 C. of vodka (this is more than you need for this recipe) into a mason jar (or reusable glass container).Β Chop one fennel bulb and add to the vodka in jar. Tighten lid on jar and refrigerate overnight, shaking occasionally. Strain before using.

2. In a glass pitcher, add watermelon puree, 4 oz. of fennel-infused vodka and the lime juice. Stir and refrigerate. Serve with ice and lime wedges.

This makes 6 lightly spiked summer sippers. Add more fennel-infused vodka for something stronger.

Vodka tip: Friends of ours (Hi Bruce and Nancy!) told us about Tito’s vodka and we love it. It’s very smooth, filtered 6 times and very reasonably priced. It’s made in Texas, too. When we picked it up at the liquor store, the lady that owns the place mentioned what a good choice we made. The 1.75 liter bottle is just under $30.

12 Notes Leave a Note

  1. Don’t thank us..Kyle is the Tito Vodka Spokesperson for the World!! Looks like a good cocktail to try!! Thanks, Nicole!!

    • Nancy – Well, I will make sure to thank Kyle, too πŸ™‚

      Kimberley – It is easy to become obsessed with watermelon, I think. It’s so summery and pink.

      Cindy – Oooo, blueberry infused gin sounds fantastic!

  2. Love this! I cannot even tell you how obsessed with watermelon I am right now. I’ve been eating it every day. I’m gonna have to try something like this.

  3. yes! I infused some gin w/ blueberries a few weeks ago…who knew infusing liquor was so easy! I bet this flavor combo is amazing!

  4. Sounds like watermelon fever is going around right now. I eat a whole (large, mind you) watermelon all by my little self just about every couple days. The addition of fennel-infused vodka makes me smile from ear-to-ear.

  5. Hi. This looks like a great recipe and perfectly suited to summer. Just one question, if I read the recipe correctly, 4 oz. of vodka make 6 6oz. drinks? If my abysmal math skills serve me at all, isn’t that 4% alcohol? A standard bar “shot” is a 1.5 oz jigger (per drink). Why even add alcohol? I’m not suggesting guests get hammered, but there certainly can’t be any alcoholic effects. I’m not trying to be a troll, just curious about the mindset of partaking in libationary activities with none of the purpose of the libation. It seems that this cocktail is a social gesture, akin to underage college girls clutching a light beer. Again, I’m not trying to be an ass, I’m just trying to broaden my perspective.


    • Michael – No worries. I should have added that this is for a lightly spiked summer sipper and I will update the post accordingly. In the recipe you infuse more vodka than you need for this particular recipe and you can definitely add more. You may want to be sparing, though, because the fennel-infused vodka has a definite licorice flavor and you want to find the right balance of watermelon/fennel/lime juice.

  6. This looks so good right now despite the cloudy MI skies at the moment. πŸ™‚ I’ve been meaning to pick me up a baby watermelon and make something of it. This sounds perfect. I should get on it before autumn descends upon us. Great looking CSA baskets, BTW. Where do you get yours from? I’m doing one for the first time this year and I get mine from Our Family Farm. Pretty great so far but I do wish we had more variety — keep getting kale and green onions each week. LOL

    • Stephanie – Despite this gray, the humidity seems to be hanging on, huh? I hope you enjoy the cooler as much as we did! I joined Maple Creek Farm’s CSA and so far I’m really impressed with everything. I’ll tweet you the link to their drop-off locations.

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