Cesar Martinez recalls sweltering summer afternoons in Freer, a South Texas town about eighty miles west of Corpus Christi, watching his grandmother dust watermelon with table salt before biting into it.
“She used to sit on the porch, smoke cigarettes, eat watermelon, and sharpen her hoe to cut the yard,” Martinez says. “I would tell her, ‘Grandma, you know, we can get a lawn mower or a Weed eater.’ And she was like, ‘No, you’re not gonna do the yard right.’ Mind you, it wasn’t like we even had nice grass.”
Martinez, who now shakes up cocktails at Bar Nido in Laredo, says he takes inspiration from both of his grandparents when crafting recipes. And this cocktail is an ode to his grandma, who raised him—it’s even named after her.
“I use mezcal because it’s smoky and earthy,” he says. “And then I add salt to balance out some of the sweetness from the watermelon, and the ginger root just pairs really well with the watermelon. I wanted to make something fresh.”
Martinez strains the drink over pebble ice but says that any ice should work. What’s important, however, is that you only use a pinch of salt when dusting the watermelon cubes, since a little goes a long way. Just like how his grandma would do it.
Makes 1 cocktail
3 slices of ginger root
pinch of salt
3 cubes of watermelon
1 ½ ounces mezcal
½ ounce Domaine De Canton ginger liqueur
½ ounce agave nectar
½ ounce lime juice
pebble or crushed ice
cubed watermelon sprinkled with salt for garnish
- Muddle ginger root and salt in a shaker.
- Add the watermelon cubes and muddle.
- Add remaining ingredients and shake well.
- Double strain into Collins glass filled with ice.
- Spear watermelon cubes with garnish pick, then place in the cocktail.