Depending on the size of your watermelon, a good kilo of pulp from one-quarter of a watermelon is about what you can expect. You can make the syrup ahead of time. Simply prepare, pour into a sterilised bottle and refrigerate. You will have leftover syrup, which will keep, refrigerated, for up to 4 weeks.

1 litre





Skill level

Average: 2.9 (5 votes)


  • ¼ seedless watermelon, cut into chunks
  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • ice cubes, gin, soda water and basil leaves, to serve


Basil sugar syrup

  • 110 g (½ cup) caster sugar
  • handful of basil leaves 

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


1 litre of cordial will make 3 litres of prepared drink.
Infusing time 2 hours

To make basil sugar syrup, combine 250 ml water and sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat and stir until sugar dissolves. Bring to the boil, then remove from heat and stir in basil. Set aside for 2 hours to cool and allow basil to infuse into the syrup. Strain, discarding basil leaves. Pour liquid into a warm sterilised bottle (see Note).

Place the watermelon, white wine vinegar and 60 ml basil sugar syrup in a blender and purée until smooth. Strain the mixture through a fine sieve set over a jug to remove any pips and foam.

Fill a glass with ice. Fill one-third full with cordial, add gin to taste, then top up with soda water and garnish with basil. Drink slowly, but purposefully.


• Sterilising jars: It is essential to sterilise jars before filling them to prevent bacteria from forming. You can reuse any glass jar as long as the lid seals well. Or buy kilners (jars with rubber seals). To sterilise jars in the oven, preheat oven to 120°C. Wash jars and lids in soapy water, rinse, then dry. Place jars and non-plastic lids on an oven tray and place in oven for 20 minutes. Remove and fill while still hot. To sterilise jars in the dishwasher, place them in the dishwasher on the hottest cycle. Dry with a clean tea towel and fill while still hot.



Photography Alan Benson. 

As seen in Feast magazine, February 2014, Issue 28.