The Conspicuous Melon - A Cocktail Inspired By Josiah Bancroft

This post contains spoilers from The Hod King

This recipe is based on the Conspicuous Melon cocktail described in Chapter 17 of The Hod King by Josiah Bancroft. Based on the description in the book, I imagine this drink is a mojito-like fruit-based cocktail. The main ingredients are dark rum, fresh watermelon, strawberry, lime, and mint.

This cocktail is packed with fresh fruit and is reminiscent of a Pimm's Cup. I used in-season watermelon and strawberries - the ripeness of the fruit really makes the cocktail

  “He ordered an elaborate drink called a Conspicuous Melon, which required the preparation of a variety of fruit muddled with dark rum. Joachim set a cutting board and paring knife on the bar and begun preparing watermelon, lime, strawberry, and mint with all the attention and care of a surgeon.”

The cocktail is written into a very dramatic scene where the villainous duke confronts Senlin and informs him that he knows exactly who the headmaster is. I love how Josiah Bancroft ties the cocktail description into this dizzying scene where the rug is torn out from under the protagonist, Senlin.

I’ll be honest - I don’t make it quite as described because I couldn’t figure out how to muddle watermelon into the drink without including the fruit’s seeds. So instead of muddling the watermelon, I opted to make a flavor-packed puree with mint-infused simple syrup.

After making the watermelon puree, I muddle fresh lime, strawberry, and dark rum in a tall cocktail glass. I then add ice and 2 ounces of watermelon puree before topping it off with a bit of club soda. Another fun detail I included in this recipe that’s not written in the book is candied mint. This cocktail is served in a wealthy duke’s private club, so I figured a candied garnish would be on-brand.

The candied mint leaves should be made at least a day ahead of serving. This gives ample time for the candied mint to harden.

Ingredients (8 cocktails)

Watermelon Mint Puree

  • 2 cups seedless watermelon, chopped
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ cup fresh mint leaves, packed 
  • ½ cup water

Candied Mint Leaves

  • 8 mint leaves, fresh
  • 1 egg white
  • ½ cup powdered sugar

Cocktail Assembly

  • 1 large strawberry, thinly sliced
  • 2 lime wedges, thin
  • 3 mint leaves, fresh
  • 2 ounces watermelon mint puree
  • 2 ounces dark rum, good quality (I used dark Pilar)
  • Club soda


Step 1 

Line a half sheet pan with wax paper. Whisk the egg white in a small bowl, and pour the powdered sugar onto a small shallow plate. Select 8 mint leaves without impurities and lay them out flat on the prepared sheet pan. Using a pastry brush, lightly brush each side of a mint leaf with egg white, and then dredge it in powdered sugar - place the mint leaf back on the sheet pan. Repeat for each leaf, and leave them to dry overnight.

Step 2

In a small saucepan, bring the sugar and water to a boil - stir to dissolve the sugar. Once dissolved, add  ½ cup of fresh mint. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes. While the syrup cooks, blend the chopped watermelon until smooth and pour it into a medium-sized heat-proof container. Place a fine mesh strainer over the bowl.

After 10 minutes, remove the mint simple syrup from heat and strain over the pureed watermelon. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow to cool completely. This step can be done the day before.

Step 3 (Assembly)

For each cocktail, muddle the thinly sliced strawberry, lime, and additional mint in a highball cocktail glass. Pour in 2 ounces of dark rum, 2 ounces of watermelon puree, and ice. Using a cocktail shaker transfer the contents of the highball back and forth until well chilled and combined. Top each cocktail off with club soda. Garnish with a candied mint leaf and a small piece of watermelon.

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