We can’t get enough of watermelon in our house. The crunchy refreshing taste and beautiful red flesh is the complete package. We buy two whole watermelon each week just to tame our appetites. But what happens when you cut into a watermelon and discover that you picked a dud? Instead of bright red, you’re met with a dull pink. Well you get creative….Since there’s nothing more important in these hot summer months than staying hydrated, a watermelon drink sure would hit the spot. And so I present to you this classic Korean drink, Watermelon Soju. Icy cold, refreshingly sweet, and just enough boozy kick to make you forget how sweltering it is outside. This recipe is so simple, and as an added bonus you can turn the leftover watermelon rind into this delicious kimchi.
Soju is Korea’s most popular spirit. It is the center of their rather robust drinking culture. Soju was traditionally made from rice, but now is frequently made with sweet potato, barley, buckwheat, wheat, or any combination of these ingredients. It is distilled like vodka and has a similar neutral flavor. Soju can be found at most well stocked liquor stores or online. If you see shochu at the store, you can go ahead and get that instead.
Japanese shochu is a similar distilled spirit and probably came to Japan from Korea, which already had soju in production starting in the 13th century. The origin of the names is the same for both languages. ‘So’/’Sho’ means burned to reference the distilling process and ‘ju’/’chu’ means alcohol. Although there are some distinctions between the two, with shochu having more strict rules on production and allowances for additives, mass produced soju and shochu can be used interchangeably. Since we’re using the soju/shochu in a blended drink, use a budget minded brand. A high quality, hand crafted spirit would be delicious too, but a bit of a waste.
Finally, most sojus are light with a low alcohol content while shochus tend to be purer and also higher in alcohol. Depending on the brand, the alcohol content can range from similar to wine’s to almost 3 times as much! Just keep that in mind when choosing your bottle.
Making Watermelon Soju
This recipe is a breeze to make. I start by cutting up the watermelon. Like I mentioned earlier, this is a great time to use less than prime fruit. Whether it’s a disappointment you purchased, fruit that’s out of season, or maybe something sitting in the fridge just a wee bit too long, this drink will put the zip back into that fruit.
Cut the fruit up and then store it in a container or ziptop bag in the freezer for at least 2 hours until it’s frozen.
While the watermelon is in the freezer, we are going to make a simple syrup. (Any leftover syrup is excellent in iced coffee, thai tea, really any cold beverage that could use a little sweetness.)
Let the syrup cool to room temperature. And once the watermelon is frozen, it’s time to make the Watermelon Soju!
Repeat with the rest of the watermelon and your cooling, slushy, summer delight is ready! Garnish with some mint and a wedge of lime. A pitcher of Watermelon Soju is just the perfect afternoon pick me up for a hot day: cold, refreshing, with a touch of sweetness and alcohol. But if you do want some food to serve with Watermelon Soju, this kimchi pancake or some salt baked shrimp would keep the summer vibes going.
I hope this Watermelon Soju cools you down and keeps you hydrated all summer long. Take a moment and tell me what you think by rating and commenting on the recipe below. And show off your gorgeous drinks by tagging us @funkyasiankitchen, we love seeing your creations!
- ¼ whole watermelon, about 3 pounds
- 1 cup soju
- ¼ cup sugar
- ¼ cup water
- Lime slices/wedges
- Sprigs of mint
- Dice the watermelon into 1 inch cubes. You should yield about 2 ½ pounds. Use the rind for another purpose or discard.
- Freeze the watermelon until frozen, about 2 hours.
- In the meantime, combine the water and sugar in a small saucepan and stir over medium high heat until the sugar is dissolved completely. Set aside to cool.
- Add half of the frozen watermelon, ½ cup of soju, and a couple tablespoons of the simple syrup. Blend until smooth. Repeat with a second batch.
- Serve watermelon soju immediately with your garnishes.
Keywords: summer, soju, korean, cocktails, drinks, watermelon