Carolina Paradigm Shift: Watermelon Cocktails from Ocean Isle Beach


Hello again from Ocean Isle Beach, North Carolina! I’m posting from vacation as part of Food in Jars DIY Drink Week. Marisa gathered up some fellow bloggers to contribute to the drink-a-rific week!

grow and resist Carolina Paradigm Shift Watermelon gin cocktailThe Ladyfriend’s family has a reunion here every summer, so I have mentioned this trip before – we typically go every other year. We were last here in 2010. I lived to tell about it in 2008 when we were training for Ironman Wisconsin. In 2005, I wasn’t blogging, but the Ladyfriend and I cycled (self-supported) from Portland, Maine to the reunion – a remarkable trip that took us about 4 weeks.

The trip coincides with (what I’m certain is) the most miserably hot and humid week of the year. In a cruel twist, it is also typically the nicest week of the year in Seattle.

The trips somewhat blur together due in part because time stands still on the island. There are minor variances. The surf, beach, and shells change a bit from year-to-year. The occasional new t-shirt shop might open (that you must go to at least once, even as you know it will be full of junk). Sometimes we play putt-putt. There have been a few incoming partners, and children over time (myself included). And this year the sea turtles were hatching. But other than that, it remains reliably stopped in time.

“The Beach People” (as the Babylady refers to them) come yearly to the same cottage(s), as they have done for 34 years. It is a pilgrimage of sorts, complete with pledges, traditions, and homemade family flags. There will be unspoken air-conditioner wars, clown acts, and plenty of lively conversation while bobbing around in the ocean (where I pretend sharks don’t exist). I will typically drink too much at least once and the cousins will invariably get kicked off the go-karts for bad behavior. I can count on iffy internet, scratchy phone connections, and sand in my sheets.

And, without fail, there will be North Carolina BBQ on the first night.

Dinner time is a Big Deal at the beach. Each family unit prepares dinner for the group. Historically a reunion meal is not really a meal unless there is a copious amount of a) meat, b) cheese, and c) desserts. Several years ago the “adult cousins” (the middle generation) and I decided for our night we would shake things up and bring an amazing selection of cheeses, a bit of cured meats, wine, and delicious crudité from our swank city stores. We made a substantial and beautiful salad. It was a delightful and perfectly summery meal. And, it didn’t pass muster with the older and younger generations. Not enough meat. Not hearty enough.

grow and resist Carolina Paradigm Shift Watermelon gin cocktail

But folks… we might be seeing a change. A paradigm shift sparked by cocktails! Wikipedia describes a paradigm shift as “a radical change in personal beliefs, complex systems or organizations, replacing the former way of thinking or organizing with a radically different way of thinking or organizing.”

2012 we entered a new phase of tasty cocktails! We had a particularly amazing blueberry mojito earlier this week. Another evening was a fizzy cocktail with grapefruit. For our night we had our sights on a summery, local watermelon. Something that would be refreshing in the oppressive heat and go down way too easy.

It was a great hit. Somewhere during the evening it was mentioned that due to the awesomeness of the cocktails this summer, perhaps we should just forego the heavy meals and just eat cheese, crackers, and salad all week. Instead of hearty meals, we could showcase Family Cocktail Nights instead. And that, my friends, is a true paradigm shift. Go forth and have a drink… live from Ocean Isle Beach.

grow and resist Carolina Paradigm Shift Watermelon gin cocktail

Carolina Paradigm Shift

  • 4 oz. watermelon juice (see notes below)
  • 1 oz. simple syrup (see notes below)
  • 2 oz. limeade
  • 2 oz. gin
  • thin lime slices for garnish
  1. To make watermelon juice: remove rind from watermelon. Cut remaining melon into chunks. Run chunks through blender until well-pureed. You can drain over a fine mesh sieve if you want, but I like the bit of watermelon pulp in my drink. Yum.
  2. To make simple syrup mix equal parts water and sugar and heat until sugar is dissolved. Keep in refrigerator until cool and ready to use.
  3. Place ingredients in cocktail shaker and add ice. Shake and pour over ice. Add lime and drink liberally.


  • Simple syrups are so easy to make and can add a lot to a drink for minimal effort. I always have a selection of syrups in the fridge made with whatever extra fruit, rinds, etc we have.
  • This drink is particularly good with a mint simple syrup or lime/mint simple syrup If you do this, add several sprigs of mint and/or white-pith-removed lime peel to simple syrup and leave mint/lime in jar until ready to use. Strain before using. It adds a bigger lime punch this way.
  • I imagine vodka would be just as good tasty.
  • This drink is also refreshing without the gin. Just mix as described and leave out the booze.
  • The drink is also easily made in bulk in a pitcher for the ease of the host. Just adjust the amounts and stir before pouring.


Check out Julia’s Jamgría and be sure to check back at Food in Jars to see all the drinks she links up to!


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