There are a lot of things that are great about being in grad school. Being broke is not one of them. In lieu of buying Mom a birthday present (I usually can’t top Maggy in that department anyway), Anthony and I decided to do what we do best: show up and cook. We brought freshly baked bread, a load of produce from our refrigerator, our able hands, and a recipe for a darn good cocktail.

We all cooked together–surf and turf, ceviche, bread, corn, banoffee pie. In short, we ate like kings and queens. But sipping these refreshing cocktails along the way made the cooking more fun and the whole occasion more festive. This really is one of the best summer cocktails I’ve ever had. What better gift is there than that? Enjoy!

Watermelon Gin Punch

This cocktail is adapted from St. John Frizell’s recipe over at

Serves 8.

One-half small round seedless watermelon (about 3-1/2 lb.), peeled and cut into large chunks
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup simple syrup
8 sprigs fresh mint; more for garnish
2 cups gin (preferable Hendrick’s or Bombay Sapphire)

Purée the watermelon in a blender or food processor. Mix the lemon juice, simple syrup, and mint in a pitcher or a punch bowl and bruise the mint thoroughly with a muddler or wooden spoon. Add the gin, the watermelon juice, and about 4 cups of ice and stir.

Serve in rocks glasses over ice. Garnish with fresh mint sprigs.