Relive the Me Decade with Midori

Insanely Good Midori Sour at the Up & Up. Image: Matt Piacentini

It’s easy being green with these Midori cocktails.

 

Did you know Midori had its US debut in 1978 at iconic New York discotheque Studio 54 during a party for the cast and crew of Saturday Night Fever? That’s amaaaaazing. The mere mention of the sweet liqueur (whose name is, not surprisingly, Japanese for “green”) conjures up thoughts of neon-hued drinks made with the treacly contents of a frosted glass bottle. But that’s changing these days, as bartenders are learning how to tame and balance its sweetness by using it judiciously in Sours, Martinis and “correcting” it with citric and malic acids.

 

Insanely Good Midori Sour cocktail at The Up & Up - Midori drink recipes

Insanely Good Midori Sour

Recipe courtesy of Chaim Dauermann, Bar Manager, The Up & Up; Image: Matt Piacentini

“I’m of the belief that there are no good drinks and no bad drinks – just ones that are made poorly or made well,” Dauermann admits. “So, I figured, why not highlight this great ingredient in a cocktail that people normally don’t anticipate will be good?” Admittedly a person who dislikes pretense and loves melon, he uses it as the sweet component in this Gin Sour.

Add all ingredients except garnish to a cocktail shaker and shake without ice. Add ice and shake again until well chilled. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass, express the orange peel over the glass to release the oils, and then discard the peels.

For the lime cordial:

Combine 1 cup Peruvian pisco with the peels of 8 limes in a container, and cover tightly. In a separate container, combine 1 cup of sugar with peels of 8 more limes. Cover tightly, shake the sugar mixture until the peels are coated and the sugar is evenly distributed all around them, and let the two mixtures set for 24 hours at room temperature. Combine the pisco mixture with the sugar mixture. Add 1 ½ cups lime juice, remove most of the peels, and add 1 ½ cups of sugar. Stir until the sugar is dissolved, about 10 minutes. Pour it through cheesecloth or a fine strainer to remove remaining peels and other debris. The recipe yields one quart and can be stored in the refrigerator for up to two months.

 

Honeydew Ginger Martini Midori cocktail at TART Restaurant in Los Angeles - Midori drink recipes
 
Honeydew Ginger Martini

Image and recipe courtesy of TART Restaurant, Los Angeles, CA

Midori’s melon/cucumber flavor pairs really nicely with spicy ginger liqueur. Lemon juice offsets its sweetness, and a few dashes of bitters add depth. You could also garnish this drink with a piece of freshly peeled ginger or a chunk of candied ginger.

Add all the ingredients except garnish to a cocktail shaker, add crushed ice, and shake until well chilled. Strain it into a chilled cocktail glass, and garnish with a lemon twist.

 

The Mad King cocktail by Parker Girard at Barrel Washington DC - Midori drink recipes
 
The Mad King

Recipe courtesy of Parker Girard, Bar Manager, Barrel; Image: Barrel, Washington DC

“I don’t know if Midori is a ‘trending’ ingredient or not, but it’s always nice to take ingredients that people have forgotten about and reappropriate them in the context of modern cocktail culture,” Girard says about this libation, named for the character in Game of Thrones who was the last member of the House Targaryen to rule from the Iron Throne. “Salted melon is delicious, so adding salt to a Midori cocktail seemed like a no-brainer.”

Pour the absinthe into a coupe glass, swirl, and set aside. Add gin, lemon juice, Midori, juice and salt to a cocktail shaker, add ice, and shake until well chilled. Once it’s mixed, use a match to set the absinthe on fire, wait five seconds, then strain the contents of the shaker into the coupe to extinguish the flame. Garnish with a small mint sprig.

 

 Miss Your Musk cocktail at Dram & Grain - Midori drink recipes
 
I Miss Your Musk

Image and recipe courtesy of Dram & Grain

Bartenders Andy Bixby, Benny Hurwitz and Morgan Kirchner like to “correct” Midori by upping the acidity with citric and malic acids, giving it brighter and crisper melon taste – but you can use it straight from the bottle, too. The drink is served over ice with candied ginger on a cocktail skewer, and the name refers to the muskmelon, a round, green melon with a cucumber-like flavor that’s the primary flavor in Midori.

  • 1 ½ oz. Vodka
  • ½ oz. Midori
  • ½ oz. Fresh lemon juice
  • ¼ oz. Ginger syrup (see Note)
  • Candied ginger on a skewer, for garnish

Add all ingredients except garnish to a cocktail shaker, add ice, and shake until well chilled. Strain into a rocks glass over fresh ice, and garnish with the candied ginger.

For the ginger syrup:

Combine 2 cups cubed ginger and 2 cups water in a saucepan, bring it to a boil and remove it from the heat. Pour the contents into a blender and fine strain. Add 1 ½ cups granulated sugar and stir until dissolved, then add ½ teaspoon potassium sorbate. Store the syrup in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

 

Melon Ball cocktail by Beam Suntory - Midori drink recipes
 
Melon Ball

Image and recipe courtesy of Beam Suntory

Midori has benefited recently from a shift back to retro classic cocktails – specifically bold, colorful drinks that were popular in the late ‘70s and ‘80s,” says Midori senior brand manager Tom Bufalino. “It’s also known as a very flexible, refreshing ingredient that provides versatility to these cocktails. He says its melon infusion brings out the best of both white and dark spirits, and also lets it stand on its own as the base in a drink. In this classic, it gets an alcohol boost from vodka and a tang that offsets the liqueur’s sweetness from orange juice (ideally, freshly squeezed).

  • 2 oz. Midori
  • 1 oz. Vodka
  • Orange juice, for topping

Pour ingredients over ice in a rocks glass, and gently stir.

 

Kelly Magyarics, DWS, is a wine, spirits and lifestyle writer, and wine educator, in the Washington, D.C. area. She can be reached through her website, www.kellymagyarics.com, or on Twitter and Instagram @kmagyarics.