I think we’ve come a long way since I showed you my first signature cocktail on the Cocktail Time channel, the Smoky Worm. It was a mix of watermelon, smoky mezcal, irish whiskey, lemon, sugar, and soy sauce. Turned out quite delicious, if I can say so myself. With the juicy, sweet fruit like the watermelon, it was a great choice for the hot summer days.
But to show you even signature cocktails can be riffed on, I did just that, making the Smoky Worm 2. With different smoke, and a bit of spice. And you won’t need agar-agar or milk to clarify this beautiful cocktail, nature and time will be enough.
To make the new version of the Smoky Worm I replaced one aged spirit with another. Instead of whiskey, I used añejo tequila (I’d prefer reposado for this cocktail, but there’s apparently a shortage of those at the moment). And to make it stand apart from the original, I introduced some spiciness with Ancho Reyes, a chili-infused liqueur from Mexico. It has a nice smoky heat on the aftertaste. But is that enough to still call this cocktail smoky, if we’re not using mezcal?
Well, start up the grill, because you’ll be grilling the watermelon, to give it, and the cocktail, some smoke. I kept the sugar and lemon from the original recipe, as well as a touch of soy sauce on top of the ice cube this time. This again brings some umami notes to the whole cocktail. Start by putting the watermelon on the grill.
I’ll start by cutting up the watermelon and getting it ready for the grill. Cut the watermelon flesh into 1,5 cm strips, which I think it about ⅝ of an inch. No need to bust out the ruler, but try to get even slices. Then separate the juicy red flesh from the rinds and place those aside. Something we will be a bit more precise on is trying to get rid of as many of the seeds as possible, which would probably turn bitter, especially after applying heat.
And as always, we try to be sustainable and create less waste, so don’t throw out the rinds. They’re rich in fiber and there are multiple ways you can use them. pickle them, use them in a stir-fry…
Sprinkle the watermelon strips with sugar, making sure everything is evenly coated. You can add other spices too, but it will affect the cocktail as well. 3 minutes on each side will be enough to give it a nice sweet & burnt caramel flavor.
We won’t need all of it for the cocktail, but nobody will complain over having a delicious smoky & sweet snack.
With that done, it’s time to make the cocktail. And it will take some time to be ready, because it will sit in the fridge overnight, so it settles and clarifies. No shaker or mixing glass this time, but a blender. Start with 200 g of grilled watermelon flesh. We already removed the seeds before, but if you still see any here, remove them. Next up, Tequila. 90 ml, or 3 oz. As mentioned, I’d prefer the fresher reposado, but there’s apparently a shortage of it in Slovenia. Let me know if that’s also the case where you live. Follow that with 22,5 ml, or 0.75 oz, of Ancho Reyes. This is made with ancho chilis, a dried form of the green poblano peppers. These are allowed to ripen on the plant until they turn red in color, before picked and dried. The right balance of sweet and sour is key in many cocktails, including this one. Add 30 ml of lemon juice and 10 grams of sugar. Here the sugar won’t have a problem with dissolving so no need for syrup.
Blend everything thoroughly before placing it in the fridge to sit overnight preferably at least 12 hours.I made a batch yesterday so I can already strain out the sediments through a coffee filter. I’m placing this over a glass for now, because the first few drops might still come through a bit cloudy, and you’ll want to refilter those. Once you see it becoming clear, move the filter and do just that.
Give it some time and it will give us a clarified and interestingly colored cocktail, without any gelling agents or anything like that.
Once bottled the Smoky Worm 2.0 should be good in the fridge for up to 10 days. But after a long process you deserve to make yourself one right now. I’ll first stamp a tempered clear ice cube,
which I’ll place in a stemmed lowball glass. Not just because it looks cool, but also to add the soy sauce. A tiny amount will go a long way, so make sure it doesn’t throw out the balance of the cocktail.
Smoky Worm 2.0:
● 200g grilled watermelon
● 90 mL (3 oz) Anejo/reposado tequila
● 15 mL (0.5 oz) Ancho Reyes
● 30 mL (1 oz) lemon juice
● 10g sugar
Then pour over the cocktail - you can measure it if you want, but with a pre-batched cocktail I think it’s fine to free-pour to the washline. Give it a quick stir and it’s ready.
The original Smoky Worm was one of my proudest creations, and this is like its little brother. I can’t love it more, but it’s got its own fiery personality which just puts a smile on my face.
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To make it easier for you to try these recipes you can grab the bottles from my collection at CURIADA