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Recipe of the week: Summer cocktails: Honeydew meets serrano chili

The fusion cocktail has arrived, says Donna Deane in the Los Angeles Times. Maybe it all started with the mint in the mojito, or

The fusion cocktail has arrived, says Donna Deane in the Los Angeles Times. Maybe it all started with the mint in the mojito, or “those wonderful drinks with lots of basil and ginger you find in Vietnamese restaurants.” These two not-too-sweet summer refreshments also leaveplenty of room for experimentation. What would happen if you tossed a serrano chili into the honeydew agua fresca cocktail? “Only one way to find out.”

Recipes of the weekHoneydew-Cilantro Agua Fresca With Tequila

Note: Make a simple syrup by heating 4 to 6 tbsp sugar with an equal amount of water until it dissolves.

6 cups cut-up honeydew (1 ripe honeydew, about 4-1/2 lbs)2 cups cold water1/4 tsp minced, seeded serrano chili2 tbsp lime juice4 to 6 tbsp simple syrup (depending on the sweetness of the honeydew)1/4 cup cilantro leaves, lightly packed6 oz tequila (3/4 cup)2 cups ice cubesCilantro sprigs for garnishRed chili peppers for garnish

Combine the honeydew and cold water in batches in a blender and blend until smooth, pouring the purée into a pitcher as each batch is blended. To the last batch of puréeing mixture, add the serrano chili, lime juice, simple syrup, and cilantro leaves, pulsing until leaves are tiny flecks.

Blend in the tequila. Pour into the pitcher and stir in ice cubes. Garnish the pitcher with a few sprigs of cilantro and two or three red chili peppers. Serves 8.

Basil-Berry Wine Punch

Note: Make a simple syrup by heating 2 tbsp sugar with an equal amount of water until it dissolves.

1/2 pint raspberries1/2 pint blackberries2 tbsp simple syrup1/4 cup torn basil leaves1/4 cup torn mint leaves1 bottle Pinot Gris, chilled1/3 cup red Cinzano1 (10-oz) bottle chilled club soda1 lime, thinly sliced6 raspberries6 blackberriesIce cubes

Purée the raspberries, blackberries, and simple syrup in a blender. Pour the purée into a glass bowl. Crush the torn basil and mint leaves with your hands and stir into the puréed berries in the bowl. Cover and let stand 2 to 3 hours for the flavors to meld.

Strain the berries, pressing on the solids to extract all of the juices, andpour the strained syrup into a tall pitcher. Add the bottle of chilled wine.Stir in the Cinzano. Top it off with a bottle of club soda and stir in limeslices, 6 raspberries and 6 blackberries, and ice cubes just before serving.Serves 6 to 8.

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