Hello, Friends of Cocktails. Midori might have you feeling Saturday Night Fever, but I think it’s time to bring it into the present and future, so let’s make an improved homemade version of this melon liqueur! You’ll like it so much you’ll use it for more than just adding green color to your cocktails. Speaking of which, I’ll show you a couple of easy cocktail recipes to use this improved liqueur in, plus a bonus one at the end, so stick around for that. But let’s start with the obvious, what is Midori?
Midori Melon Liqueur was first introduced in Japan in 1964 under the name Hermes Melon Liqueur. It was renamed to Midori, meaning ‘green’, when it was introduced to the United States in 1978. That launch was held at New York's famous Studio 54 nightclub, with the party hosted by the cast of Saturday Night Fever, including John Travolta.
Midori is made from Japanese musk and Yubari melons, and is of course artificially colored green. The bottle's texture resembles the surface of a melon, and in 2012 the recipe was changed based on bartender’s feedback to cut back on the sugar content by 20%. According to some sources the sugar content may vary, depending on where it’s produced - Japan, US, Mexico, or France, so let’s give it a taste.
Melon is quite subtle, with the major flavor being closer to bubblegum or gummy bears, with hints of banana and green apple. I decided that instead of trying to replicate the flavor of Midori I’ll aim for a more natural-tasting melon liqueur. Since melon is pretty mellow in flavor and doesn’t infuse all that well, I decided on a technique we covered recently - Cryo-concentration. Freezing out part of the water from the melon will concentrate the flavor and boost the natural sugar content, which is key for our improved DIY Midori!
Along with melon, you’ll also need some banana chips for a subtle tropical note, a grain spirit to add the ABV, ascorbic acid and sodium citrate as preservatives and flavor enhancers, and a little food coloring, but these three are optional. We’re aiming for a liqueur with 25% ABV, slightly higher than Midori’s 20-21%, and a sugar content of 150 g/liter, as I usually do with DIY liqueurs.
For starters we need to get Cryo-concentrated Melon Juice. I went into the details of this flavor-boosting technique a few weeks ago with pineapple, but it’s basically the same process here - peel and juice the fruit. And while I’m not using japanese melons, I am using a japanese knife, so that’s something. Interestingly, Midori production starts with Yubari melons that are harvested, broken down into a pulp and then immediately frozen, before being sent off to the distillery, so we might be starting with a similar process. It’s Cocktail Time!
Cryo-concentrated Melon Juice
● 1.5L Melon Juice
The amount of juice we’ll need will depend on the size of your cooler, but to make sure it’s a consistent process, begin by measuring the sugar content with the refractometer. This juice has a BRIX value of 10 and we’ll see how far we can bump that up, so place the cooler in the freezer and leave for most of the water content to freeze on the top - for me that took around 24 hours. Continue by cutting through and removing the frozen part, which I’ll place on a strainer.
First thing we want is the concentrated melon juice, so strain that. As for the frozen liquid that’s left on the strainer, I realized that the first part that will melt still has a significant amount of sugar in it - sometimes even more than the melon juice that didn’t freeze. To measure the exact amounts you’ll need to get the liquid to room temperature, which I’ll do with this glass under warm water, then you can measure the sugar content again.
You’re aiming to get 19 BRIX with your cryo-contentrated juice. If you’re not quite there you have two options, to place in the freezer again and concentrate it even more, or just add sugar. We got it right the first time, so we’ll go with that. For the leftover melon water, you can use it for highballs like we did at the end of the Cryo-concentration episode, but we are now ready to move onto the making of our melon liqueur.
● 500mL (16.66oz) Cryo-concentrated Melon Juice
● 7g Banana Chips
● 1.2g Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid)
● 3g Sodium Citrate
● 172mL (5.75oz) 96% ABV Grain Spirit
● Green Food Coloring
Begin by blending the Melon Juice, Banana Chips, Vitamin C and Sodium Citrate for at least 30 seconds, for everything to mix in nicely. After that we’ll mix this with 96% grain alcohol to get the liqueur to 25% ABV level. This is similar to Switching - another freezing technique used by Panda&Sons - where they freeze spirits to remove water and replace it with something else, like clarified fruit juice, so the original spirit gets a different flavor.
For our cryo-concentrated juice we need to add 34,4 ml of grain spirit for every 100 ml of our juice. You can also divide your total amount by 2.9 and get the end result, but as always the easiest way is to use the calculator here on kevinkos.com. Just type in the amount of juice you have and you’ll get how much alcohol you need to add. But with this step, we finally have a homemade melon liqueur with 25% ABV and 150 g of sugar per liter.
You can filter this right now and use this as is, but if you want to add green coloring you first need to clarify it. To do that just leave it to sit at room temperature for at least 24 hours, for the alcohol to clarify the liqueur, or you can double that time for better results. Now we filter the liqueur through a cloth filter, and remember to transfer the filter once you see clear liquid coming through and re-filter the first part.
At the end we’ll end up with a clear liqueur with a yellowish hue, which we’ll change to green with some green food coloring. Matcha green tea isn’t a great option here as it wouldn't be as stable and would change color, so the best way to get the color you want is to use a technique shown by Jean-Felix of Truffles on the Rock. Just pour out a small amount of the Liqueur and add a little bit of green coloring into it. Stir to mix well, then we’ll use this to slowly add the right amount of green color into our liqueur.
Go for bright green, like Midori, or add a little less if you don’t want that neon green look. The beauty of this technique is that you can decide for yourself. What’s left can be enjoyed as a shot by yourself or a friend. Now add a label and unlike most liqueurs, I’d suggest storing this in the fridge, but we’ve waited enough so let’s give it a quick taste before we make a couple of simple cocktails.
It has a sweet fruity aroma of melon with subtle honeyed and tropical notes. Our DIY Midori has a lovely melon flavor on the palate, which lingers on the aftertaste. The flavor of the liqueur will continue to develop and have an even better taste after a few days because the alcohol will mellow and round out the flavor. But even now, I’d say we made a superior liqueur.
The first cocktail we’ll make will be the simple 3-ingredient Midori Sour, so you’ll only need our DIY MIDORI, lime juice and egg white… And saline solution, so technically 4 ingredients.
● 60mL (2oz) DIY Midori
● 30mL (1oz) Lime Juice
● 22.5mL (0.75oz) Egg White
● 2 drops 20% Saline Solution
● Lime Peel Coin
Start by separating egg white into a separate container through a hawthorne strainer, we’ll add that last. Now combine the rest of the ingredients, and follow that with the egg white - as a tip, if you whisk it slightly you stretch out and unravel the proteins, making it easier to dose correctly. We’ll then give it a dry shake first, to emulsify the egg white and create a nice foam. Then add plenty of ice and shake again to chill and dilute, before double straining the cocktail into a chilled rocks glass over fresh ice.
Our first cocktail of the day has a fresh, citrusy aroma with subtle hints of melon, with more of the same on the palate - while it’s a refreshing blend of lime and melon sweetness, I think a stronger base, like gin or vodka would be a good idea. As for the fluffy texture and the green color it’s no wonder the Midori Sour was so popular in the 80s. These days a contender for that level of popularity is the spritz with Aperol being the king in that category, but I think melon can go with prosecco just as good as orange does!
● 90mL (3oz) Prosecco
● 60mL (2oz) DIY Midori
● 30mL (1oz) Soda Water
● 2 drops 20% Saline Solution
● Slice of Melon
Here you’ll start with a chilled stemmed glass, filled with ice. We’re going with the traditional 3-2-1 ratio, so add the ingredients, give everything a gentle lift and mix with a barspoon, garnish with a slice of melon and that’s it - tell me you wouldn’t enjoy this next to a Venice canal. The Midori Spritz has a light, bubbly aroma with a hint of sweet melon. When you take a sip, you'll taste the sparkling prosecco mingling with the refreshing melon flavor from our liqueur.
This is a light and delightful drink with just enough of the bubbles and a touch of melon sweetness, but as for the third cocktail, we’ll go with a Greener Negroni. The Greener Negroni is my variation of the Green Negroni found in Difford’s guide. This is my version of the bitter Italian classic, with a green twist. It’s what you’d expect and more: bitter, sweet, subtly fruity and pleasantly dry. All in all, delicious and beautiful in its own way.
I’ll share the recipe with all readers of The Cocktail Times, my weekly newsletter, and a video of me making it with all the Patrons of Cocktail Time. The newsletter keeps you up to date with all Cocktail Time episodes, plus you also get useful cocktail tips, answers to your most interesting questions, best videos to watch from other creators, and more. Sign up to the Cocktail Times newsletter here on my website by scrolling to the bottom of this blog!
So with that we’ve reached the bottom of the glass, and today I have a quick fun fact regarding Midori. I already mentioned Midori is Japanese for ‘green’, but did you know it’s also a popular girl’s name? Japanese figure skater Midori Ito and American actress Midori Francis share this interesting name. I’ll see you next week, Friends of Cocktails!