It Takes Two (Straws)

By Caroline Hatchett | Will Blunt


Caroline Hatchett
Will Blunt
Cantaloupe in Vegas
Cantaloupe in Vegas

Sharing plates is the new normal in restaurant dining, and cocktails are the next logical frontier. At San Francisco's Dirty Habit, parties of two (or more) can split punch bowls, antique shakers filled to the brim, and "lunch box" sets (complete with a cocktail-filled thermos, two beers, and snacks). For his most recent large format menu, Bartender Brian Means added Cantaloupe in Vegas, hollowing out a whole melon and filling it with 11 delicious fluid ounces.

Means loves a good piƱa colada-filled pineapple, but the melon felt much more original. "you don't see a lot of cocktails in cantaloupes out there," says Means. For the drink, he shakes 4 ounces Cuttysark Prohibition Scotch (for its high proof, heavy peat, and high malt content), 3 ounces cantaloupe juice (made from the scraped flesh in a Vitamix, passed through a chinois),  ounces raspberry gomme syrup (Jeffrey Morgenthaler's recipe), 1½ ounces lemon juice, and 1 ounce King's Ginger liqueur. He then strains the cocktail into a frozen melon shell pierced with two straws.

Means likens the melon cocktail experience to enjoying one of Diry Habit Chef Justin Koenig's charcuterie boards. "Salty charcuterie goes so well with dried apricots and melons. In the drink, it's the salty-savory element of the Scotch and peat that pairs so well with the cantaloupe," he says.

He offers eight of the drinks each night, keeping the melon vessels at the ready in a roll-top freezer behind the bar. "The cool thing about the cantaloupe being frozen is that it keeps the drink that much colder. It's not going to dilute as fast either," he says. It's like a cold glass martini—but with added flavor."

At $3.50 to $4 a pop, the cantaloupe is by far his biggest expense, but at $21.75, the drink costs customers roughly the same as ordering two single-serve cocktails. It's a lot more fun, though, and a much better reflection of Dirty Habit's boisterous, come-one-share-all atmosphere that's made its way from the dining room to the bar.


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