The Washington Post

Watermelon-Hibiscus Sour

Watermelon-Hibiscus Sour 1.000

Scott Suchman for the Washington Post/food styling by Lisa Cherkasky for The Washington Post

Spirits Aug 20, 2021

Turning watermelon juice into a rich syrup made darker and tarter with dried hibiscus flowers, then mixing it with a smoky mezcal makes for a deep, rich sour.

You can halve the syrup recipe if you want less, but since you can also use the syrup to brighten nonalcoholic drinks — just combine an ounce or two with club soda, ginger ale or tonic water — you may want to have more of it on hand.

Active time: 20 mins; Total time: 20 mins, plus 1 hour for chilling the syrup

Make Ahead: The watermelon-hibiscus syrup needs to be made and refrigerated at least 1 hour in advance.

Storage Notes: Fresh watermelon juice can be refrigerated for up to 24 hours. Shake before using. Leftover watermelon-hibiscus syrup can be refrigerated for up to 1 week.

Where to Buy: Dried hibiscus flowers can be found in Latin American markets or online.


When you scale a recipe, keep in mind that cooking times and temperatures, pan sizes and seasonings may be affected, so adjust accordingly. Also, amounts listed in the directions will not reflect the changes made to ingredient amounts.

Tested size: 1 servings

  • For the watermelon-hibiscus syrup
  • 2 cups (480 milliliters) fresh watermelon juice (see NOTE)
  • 1 1/2 cups (300 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup (20 grams) dried hibiscus flowers
  • 1/2 teaspoon table or fine sea salt
  • For the drink
  • Ice
  • 1 ounce watermelon-hibiscus syrup
  • 3/4 to 1 ounce fresh lime juice
  • 1 1/2 ounces mezcal
  • 1 dash Angostura bitters
  • 1 lime wheel, for garnish (optional)


Make the watermelon-hibiscus syrup: In a saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the watermelon juice, sugar, hibiscus flowers and salt. Bring to a boil and allow to boil for 30 seconds, then reduce the heat to low and simmer until slightly reduced, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool, then transfer to a container with a lid and refrigerate until completely cold.

Make the drink: Chill a cocktail glass. Fill a cocktail shaker with ice, then add the syrup, lime juice (to taste), mezcal and bitters. Shake hard, then strain into the prepared glass. Garnish with the lime wheel, if using, and serve.


To make watermelon juice, blend or crush the fruit's flesh and then strain out the solids.

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Recipe Source

From Spirits columnist M. Carrie Allan.

Tested by M. Carrie Allan.

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Nutritional Facts

Calories per serving: 209

% Daily Values*

Total Fat: 0g 0%

Saturated Fat: 0g 0%

Cholesterol: 0mg 0%

Sodium: 68mg 3%

Total Carbohydrates: 24g 8%

Dietary Fiber: 1g 4%

Sugar: 23g

Protein: 0g

*Percent Daily Value based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Total Fat: Less than 65g

Saturated Fat: Less than 20g

Cholesterol: Less than 300mg

Sodium: Less than 2,400mg

Total Carbohydrates: 300g

Dietary Fiber: 25g

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