I have lived enough life to know that it’s best not to disappoint a beautiful woman. I also have tended bar long enough to know that Midori, a saccharine melon liqueur that once employed Kim Kardashian as its spokeswoman, can be a challenge to make memorable—at least in a good way. Yet recently, the only way for me NOT to disappoint one of the most beautiful women in the world—2013 Playmate of the Year Raquel Pomplun no less—was to somehow utilize Midori in a way that proved as indelible as Raquel herself.
Things started simply enough. To commemorate Raquel’s coronation as Playmate of the Year, Playboy planned to hold an after-party at the Chateau Marmont in early May. As Playboy’s drinks columnist, I was asked to create a custom cocktail menu that reflected the flavors that appealed to her palate. That’s when the assignment got tricky: Raquel’s favorite drink is a Midori Sour (Midori, Sweet and Sour Mix and Sprite—more or less).
Truth be told, I hadn’t worked with the neon-green liqueur made by Suntory Holdings Limited, the Japanese company that produces the whiskey featured in Sofia Coppola’s Lost in Translation, since college. The recent mixology movement, while a boon for rye whiskey, imported vermouth and esoteric bitters categories, has unfortunately left a few products out in the cold. Midori is one of them.
The main issue with Midori is how sweet it tastes—imagine a Toblerone bar dipped in sugar. (Okay, that’s a slight exaggeration.) The strong melon flavor can be a problem as well since it tends to overwhelm nearly every other ingredient it touches.
In the end, I decided to meet strength with strength, cutting through the melon-y sweetness with 100-proof vodka. (Regular vodka normally clocks in at 80-proof.) I also went with a less-is-more approach when it came to the Midori—adding only a couple of drops to the vodka, which I complemented with lemon juice and soda water.
It’s hard not to like the end result—no matter your preconceived notions about Midori. But best of all, it proves worthy of the woman of the hour.
THE SWEETEST THING
1 ounce 100-proof vodka
3/4 ounce fresh lemon juice
1/2 ounce Midori
1/2 ounce 1:1 simple syrup
1 1/2 ounces soda water
Combine all the ingredients but the soda water in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake until chilled. Add soda. Pour over fresh ice in a chilled Collins glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.