The Cactus Flower is a summery, sweet-and-smoky cocktail made with watermelon-infused mezcal, citrus, ginger, and prickly pear syrup.
Summer is just around the corner and I’m ready for alllll the agave-based cocktails.
I’m still not imbibing myself just yet (a few weeks left until baby’s due), but this delicious melon and ginger flavored mezcal cocktail is on my post-pregnancy to do list!
San Dimas is looking for new cocktail recipes to feature on their website, and one grand prize winner will win a trip to visit their palenque in Oaxaca!
What is mezcal?
Mezcal is the national spirit of Mexico, and it’s a distilled spirit made from any type of agave plant.
I say “any type” because this helps to differentiate mezcal a bit from tequila, which is made specifically with the blue agave.
Tequila is a type of mezcal, but not all mezcals are tequilas. Another difference between tequila and mezcal is that mezcal is known for its prominent smoky flavor, which comes from cooking the pinas (agave hearts) in underground pits.
In general, tequila and mezcal share some similar earthy flavors, but I find mezcals to have a bit funkier, more vegetal flavors.
If this doesn’t sound like something you’d like, you might be surprised! These deep or savory flavors work beautifully in a number of cocktails and contrast well with bright and fruity summer flavors.
Also, there are a ton of mezcals available in the US today, some with flavors ranging from fruity to citrusy to floral.
Not all mezcals are super heavy on the smoke flavor, so you can find a more mild one and start there. A lovely more mild mezcal to check out is El Silencio. Want a more robust, flavor? Try Montelobos. Not too much or too little smoke? Try San Dimas.
What’s in the Cactus Flower cocktail:
This recipe requires a little prep to make the watermelon-infused mezcal, but not a lot of extra work. Here’s the ingredients:
- Watermelon-infused mezcal
- Freshly squeezed lime juice
- Ginger liqueur
- Prickly pear syrup
How to make watermelon-infused mezcal
Don’t be intimidated by this infusion, it couldn’t be easier!
Simply combine some fresh, ripe watermelon with some mezcal in a jar, seal it up, and let it sit for a day or two.
Give it a shake now and then to help the flavors meld. After at least 24-48 hours, strain out the melon with a fine mesh strainer, pressing gently on the fruit to squeeze out as much of that melon-y liquor as you can.
Pro tip: let the mixture infuse for as long as possible! If you can wait for a week, you’ll have maximum melon flavor.
A lot of recipes that involve infusions call for large quantities, like an entire bottle of booze.
You can feel free to infuse a whole bottle if you’re making cocktails for a large group, but most of the time, I like to make very small batches – just enough for a few cocktails.
See the recipe card below for more about how much to make and the mezcal to fruit ratio.
Where does the bright pink color come from?
This insanely vibrant cocktail is colored mostly from a prickly pear (cactus fruit) syrup.
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You can either make your own, or buy it online. I’ve been buying Monin Desert Pear on Amazon and I love it!
It has an authentic but concentrated flavor that I’ve found difficult to achieve when making my own prickly pear syrup (since the fruit can be so mild).
You might enjoy these other mezcal cocktails:
- Naked & Famous
- Hot Honey Blackberry Margarita
- Classic Margarita
- How to Make the Perfect Frozen Margaritas
- Coctel de los Muertos
Cactus Flower – a Mezcal, Melon, and Ginger Cocktail
- 2 oz watermelon-infused mezcal (I used San Dimas)
- 1 oz freshly squeezed lime juice
- 1/2 oz ginger liqueur
- 1/2 oz prickly pear syrup (I used Monin Desert Pear)
For the watermelon-infused mezcal
- Combine 2 parts mezcal to 1 part cubed ripe watermelon in a closed container, like a mason jar. (For a small batch, I used 1 cup of mezcal to 1/2 cup of watermelon. You can make a large batch with one 750ml bottle of mezcal to about 1/2 a large watermelon).
- Let the mixture infuse for 24-48 hours (or longer for even more flavor!) Give the jar a gentle shake periodically.
- After 1-2 days, use a fine mesh strainer to strain the liquid, pressing gently on the watermelon chunks to express as much liquid as possible.
- Store any leftover infused mezcal in a closed container away from heat and sunlight.
For the cocktail:
- Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker and fill the shaker 3/4 with ice.
- Shake until chilled, then strain into a coupe glass.
- Garnish with a lime twist.