Merchant’s Wife

The Merchant’s Wife, from the Stella Rosa Pizza Bar in Santa Monica, is a fresh, sweet watermelon cocktail perfect for summertime day drinking. Named for a Boris Kustodiev painting of a wealthy woman sat at a table with a sumptuous spread of fruits, it’s an equally luxurious treatment for the humble melon.

The Merchant’s Wife is similar to Jane Danger’s Melon Stand, one of our favorite watermelon cocktails. It’s worth a try even if you’ve already had the other; the fresh fruit, smaller measure of gin and the topping of sparkling water make for an even more refreshing, less concentrated flavor.

Stella Rosa’s recipe calls for 1-inch (25mm) cubes of fresh melon. If you don’t have fresh fruit, an ounce (30mL) of watermelon juice is an acceptable substitute, albeit inferior.

Aperol, the sweetest and gentlest of the Italian citrus aperitvo, is better here than Campari and its super-bitter cousins.

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Muddle the watermelon chunks and simple syrup in a shaker. Add the remaining ingredients and ice, and shake well. Double-strain through a fine mesh sieve into an ice-filled wine glass, goblet, or other large glass. Top with the sparkling water, and garnish with a fresh wedge of watermelon.

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