Watermelon Basil Cooler

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I had one of my best friends in the world and her hubby visiting me this week with their gorgeous little baby boy Mason.

He grabbed hold of my heart with the first toothy grin.

He squeezed it with every giggle.

He reduced me to an embarrassing display of nonsense babble in our long "conversations" about what it's like to be a one-year-old.

Then I, myself, cried like a baby the night before they left. He'll know me as Aunty Jenn, and to me, he's 100% nephew despite no blood relation.

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Just as I was packing my friends into the car to drive the to the airport, I got a phone call with the heart-wrenching news that my uncle had passed away. I'm grieving the brother of my father. A man who reached out to me when I was hurting, and touched my life with his sincerity, love and quiet kindness.

And I'm writing this post about a drink that I made for friends who are also bizarrely "related" to me as ex-step-uncle, -aunt and -cousin.

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All this brought me to a reflection on family. The people we love and to whom we feel fiercely loyal, but who share none of our genes. The ones who do share our blood but not much else. The people we choose to spend our lives with vs. the ones we were born connected to. The people who cherish you vs. the ones who simply feel "entitled" to you.

I am lucky to have best friends I consider sisters, and a sister I consider a best friend. An amazing mom, and a motley assortment of steps, ex's, in-laws, friends and an Irish Setter who have become part of my "family" - a concept that, in heading toward marriage, has become all the more important to me.

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My reflections didn't yield any life-altering insight. I was simply reminded to nurture the relationships that fulfill me and give myself permission to let go of the ones that dole out apathy and hurtful words. To love ferociously, but wisely. To celebrate and protect my funny little family.

And if you didn't before, now you need a drink, am I right?

Sweet watermelon and a whiff of floral basil against a fizzy backdrop of ginger ale blended into an icy, refreshing cooler. Like with the watermelon milkshake, I started with frozen watermelon chunks avoid diluting its flavour with ice.

If you ask me, the freezer is a great place to store a hefty wedge of the giant watermelon you just bought and probably won't be able to finish.

You could easily make this a virgin drink - it would still be delicious without the vodka.

  • 8Servings

Ingredients

  • 5 cups frozen watermelon chunks
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 4-6 small basil leaves
  • 2-4 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 4 cups (1 litre) ginger ale
  • 12 ounces vodka

Preparation

  1. Combine frozen watermelon, lime juice, basil and 2 tbsp sugar in a blender. Taste; add more sugar, if needed. Strain through a fine-meshed sieve into a large measuring cup or bowl (ideally with a spout). Discard the solids in the sieve. You should have 4 cups of watermelon juice.

  2. Measure 1/2 cup watermelon juice into 8 tall, ice-filled glasses. Add 1 1/2 ounces vodka to each, then top up with ginger ale (approximately 1/2 cup ginger ale per serving).