To launch our new cocktail feature, we invited one of our favorite drinksmiths, Greg Murnion of Sunset Strip haunt , to concoct a summery libation especially for us--and he was quick with his key component. "Watermelon was the first ingredient I ever used in a cocktail--or, better yet--the first ingredient I made a cocktail in," he explains of the inspiration, confessing that he swiped said fruit from a local ShopRite in his youth, in a bid to impress his buddies. "I took that ill-gotten melon, bore a hole in it, and emptied a bottle of contraband vodka inside of it. It was like a bad Katy Perry song," he says. Murnion's updated take is a sophisticated mega-leap from his yesteryear party trick, but the chile kick does channel a flash of rite of passage rebellion. As for the other ingredients? "They just taste good together," he says.
GREG'S EXPERT TIP: I like to infuse my own tequila, and it's super simple. First, choose a brand you like, ( and are both good and reasonably priced). For each bottle you want to infuse, broil one Serrano chili until it's charred. Empty the tequila into a container, slice open the charred chile, and drop it into the tequila. After 15-20 minutes, use a wire strainer to strain the chili out of the tequila, making sure that no seeds remain. Return the tequila to its bottle and voila: Serrano chile-infused tequila.
||Our expert's mezcal of choice is the twice-distilled Del Maguey Mezcal Vida, whose smooth finish clinched double-gold at San Francisco's World Spirit Competition.
1.5 ounces Serrano chile-infused blanco tequila
¼ ounce mezcal (is a good option)
2 ounces watermelon juice
1/2 ounce fresh lime juice
1/2 ounce fresh orange juice
1/2 oz simple syrup
Shake all ingredients except for the mezcal together and strain over ice. Top with mezcal.
Photograph: Andrew Arthur