James Ransom
April 10, 2015

We couldn't be more excited about the Food52's newly released cookbook Genius Recipes. For those of you who are already avid fans of the popular column under the same title, think of this beautifully bound copy as the greatest hits version to their ever-growing, life-changing catalog of kitchen hits. Written by the site's executive editor Kristen Migore, entries were selected not only for their impressive flavors, but because each has that extra unexpected step or ingredient that surprises, edifies---or both.

 James Ransom

One of our favorites is this non-alcoholic salmon-hued beverage concocted by cookbook author and food blogger Louisa Shafia. Let's just say that the phrase "beauty is only skin-deep" does not apply here. Yes, it's gorgeous, but the combination of ingredients gives it a perfectly refreshing sweet-and-sour balance that's more sophisticated than your average picnic punch. Plus, the addition of cider vinegar means it gets to boast a few health benefits too. The recipe below is enough to feed a crowd, but we wouldn't be surprised if you wanted the whole batch for yourself. And if you're itching for a kick, we won't judge you for adding in a splash of gin.

 Courtesy Ten Speed Press

Watermelon, Mint & Cider Vinegar Tonic

Genius tips: Shafia suggests adding a few slices of ginger, fresh rose petals, or a stalk of crushed lemongrass--or, instead of watermelon, swapping in cherries (sweet or sour), sliced apricots, peaches, plums or grapes.

Makes: 5 cups concentrate, enough for twenty 1-cup servings of tonic

Ingredients

3 cups (710ml) water, plus more to serve¼ tsp fine sea salt1 cup (340g) good quality honey6 cups (910g) coarsely chopped watermelon1 cup (25g) tightly packed fresh spearmint1 cup (240ml) cider vinegarIce cubesChopped watermelon, sliced unwaxed cucumber, and spearmint, for garnish

Directions

1. Bring the water and the salt to a boil in a saucepan. Add the honey, stir to dissolve, and remove from the heat.

2. Combine the watermelon and mint in a large bowl. Stir in the honey water and let cool to room temperature, then add the vinegar. Steep the mixture in the refrigerator for several hours or up to overnight.

3. Strain the mixture and eat the watermelon chunks, if desired. Pour the concentrate into a clean glass jar, and store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

4. To serve, pour 1/4 cup (60ml) of the concentrate into a glass over ice and dilute with 3/4 cup (180ml) of water (still or sparkling). Garnish with watermelon, cucumber, and mint.