Watermelon Gazpacho Cocktail - A Sublime September Tipple

With September firmly in its second half, the days are decidedly getting shorter.  Our New England foliage is beginning to feature some lively licks of color, and the morning chill no longer allows for a sleeveless stroll to the mailbox.  That the official end of summer is still several days off is of little solace to those lamenting the approach of winter.

I used to be one of those lamenters.  I'd get all gloomy at the first hint of fall; pumpkins depressed me... so did chrysanthemums and cornucopias. Especially cornucopias.  An irrational dread of what the winter might bring had left me unable to appreciate the unique awesomeness of fall.

It was a desire to extend the abbreviated Connecticut golf season that finally led me to stop sulking and embrace Autumn. Once I did, I found myself looking forward to this season on steamy summer days.  I now relish the last months of each year; for the spectacular changing colors, the cooler temperatures... and the less crowded golf courses.  There's also the prospect... once Autumn is well underway... of an Indian summer, bringing us a final taste of warmth before winter takes hold for good.   This endearing weather singularity is quite common in New England, and it's the inspiration behind a unique drink I developed for our annual fall golf classic.  It's a blend of the season's most delightful ingredients and the end result is both sweet and savory, just like the special season that inspired it: The Watermelon Gazpacho Cocktail.

Watermelon Gazpacho Cocktail

What you'll need... more or less... for 4 drinks: 

1/2 of a small-ish watermelon, chopped into cubes (abt 2 cups plus a few extra for garnish)
1/8 cup chopped/peeled cucumber (plus a few 1/2 inch slices for garnish)
1/8 cup chopped/peeled red pepper
1 Tbs. chopped red onion
1 Tbs. red wine vinegar
2 cups tomato or vegetable juice
A couple of Basil and/or Mint leaves, chopped (plus a few sprigs reserved for garnish)

Blend/puree the above ingredients. You can do this in a blender, juicer or food processor. I use an immersion blender because... well, I just really like immersion blenders, but the idea is to liquify everything into a smooth mix.  Once this is done, Fill 4 tall glasses halfway with ice. Pour 2 ounces of vodka and 4 ounces of the above mix into each glass and stir.  Garnish with a cube of watermelon, a slice of cucumber and/or a sprig of basil or mint, and enjoy the perfect Indian summer cocktail.