A sublimely summery watermelon cocktail

When I turned five years old, my sister threw me a party. It was classic June New England weather; cool and rainy with fog hovering over the rolling hills. There was a scavenger hunt—I remember donning rain boots and a bright yellow slicker over my party dress and following clues to where the field met the woods at the edge of our yard. We moved in groups, huddled over clues in the bird bath, and ran to the forsythia bushes where, under an arched cave of branches, we found temporary tattoos. 

There was glossy chocolate cake with thin candles and flower crowns for all my friends. Woven with roses and pale green lady’s mantle, they circled our little heads.

Twenty years later, she did it again. I invited friends to stay for the weekend and Bridget and my mom worked their magic.

It was the most perfect party I’ve ever attended, complete with paper lanterns, a pink strawberry-flavored three-layer cake and a signature watermelon-mint-lime-tequila cocktail with flowers frozen into each individual ice cube.

There was, of course, a flower crown. We played ladder toss, lay on blankets in the fading sun, ate hot dogs and gorged on cake.

There was even a post-dinner, pre-dessert appetizer of root beer floats. 25-years-old and wearing my crown, I felt the kind of happy-magic that only a sister can make you feel.

It’s been three weeks since Sam and I drove out for that weekend, both of us dumbstruck by the evening light as we drove west into the Berkshires. We pulled the car over to take in the hills bathed with generous swaths gold.

IMG_8321That “weekend” for me turned into three weeks. I blame the sun playing through the grapevines, the nightly rustic tarts eaten outside, and the green green green of the swaying trees. Also, my niece Idouna who, as far as I’m concerned, hung the moon, the stars, and the sea. 

Here’s the recipe for my sister’s “The Gracie,” that glowing cocktail that took me over the brink into official adulthood. Cheers!

Ingredients (Makes about 10):

  • 1 watermelon
  • 6 limes
  • Simple syrup, to taste
  • One shot of tequila per glass
  • Handful of fresh mint, muddled.


  1. Puree the meat of 1 watermelon in a food processor.
  2. Pour the puree through a mesh strainer; discard pulp.
  3. Add the juice of 5 or 6 limes to the watermelon juice.
  4. Make a simple syrup and add to watermelon mixture to taste.
  5. Fill glasses with ice. Add a shot of tequila and sprinkling of muddled mint to each.
  6. Top with the watermelon/lime/simple syrup mixture.



  1. Katie Carlone says

    Dear wonderful Grace, I can feel, smell, imagine, taste, hear and just bask in the sublimely sensual perfection of your birthday celebration. They say words cannot express true bliss, but you’ve managed to come as close as it gets. Life is thrilled that you have crossed the 25-year threshold – & more loving, amazing adventures await! (PS Dennis’ favorite food on the planet is watermelon – we’ll definitely give this cocktail a GO. )

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