Vietnam is 12 hours ahead of the US Central time zone (where Nashville falls), which means when we visited Vietnam last year, we really struggled with the jet lag.
We arrived in Ho Chi Minh City late on a Sunday night and then boarded a plane to travel to the quaint little city of Hoi An the next afternoon. It was 3 full days of travel and all we wanted was sleep that first night in Hoi An.
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Anyone who has struggled with jet lag before will tell you it’s not the fatigue that makes it so frustrating, it’s the inability to sleep when you should be sleeping. Which is how we found ourselves both wide awake at 4am willing for the ability to just go back to bed.
Lucky for us, things get started early in Vietnam. When we were there the sun was rising before 5:30 each morning, which meant that’s when the day started.
Hoi An is a city that runs on tourism, so while the tourists sleep, the locals go about their daily grocery shopping at a market that pops up on the main streets of Hoi An just for the early morning hours. This market and a chance to be an observer without any other tourists around was one of my favorite parts about visiting Vietnam.
For us, the market was chaos – it hummed with a busy, loud, and frenetic energy that wasn’t on par with the early morning hour. It was sensory overload at 6am.
But after one morning, we were addicted to it. By the third morning in Hoi An, we were setting our alarms to be up with the market goers. We would walk to the market, walk around the stalls trying (though probably not all that successfully) to avoid being in the way.
After we finished a lap or two we would go down the street where the stalls of prepared food were. That was where everyone would take their breakfast break. Every stall had one or two dishes that seemed to be the speciality. So we would walk around awkwardly, looking at which stalls were very crowded and trying to guess at what they were serving.
And then we would pick a stall and eat first breakfast. We usually had no idea what dish we were eating or how to dress it up with the wide variety of Vietnamese condiments. The Vietnamese women running the stalls would point to things eagerly to try to tell us how to garnish it. It was awkward and wonderful at the same time. And the food was always amazing.
Then (because this is vacation after all), we would walk back to our hotel and eat second breakfast. Second breakfast usually consisted of the creature comforts we craved – full sized dining chairs, hot black coffee, cold cheese and yogurt – but it also had the most amazing fruit spreads I’ve ever seen.
In Hoi An at second breakfast was the first time we had the fresh squeezed watermelon juice. And oh my god, you guys it was revitalizing. So fresh and thirst quenching and familiar yet different.
We have watermelons in the US, why is fresh watermelon juice not a thing?! It needs to be a thing. Since it’s not everywhere in the US right now, we sought it out at every subsequent stop in our trip to Vietnam. So now, like my beloved Khao Soi, fresh watermelon juice reminds me of Vietnam.
It’s actually taken me awhile to make watermelon juice at home since returning (almost an entire year!), but after making it this past weekend, I really don’t know why it’s taken me so long.
For this recipe, I fancied it up a little bit and turned my fresh watermelon juice into an extra super fresh, alcohol free watermelon spritzer. All you need is watermelon juice, sparkling water, lime, and mint.
How to Make Fresh Watermelon Juice
Making fresh watermelon juice is really simple – so simple I’m questioning why it’s taken me so long to do it. You need a blender and a fine mesh strainer and that’s pretty much it.
P.S. Use a real blender for this – I thought I try my immersion blender and it was NOT the right tool for the job. Pretty obsessed with my ninja blender we got for our wedding when I’m not feeling too lazy to take it out of our pantry 🙂
So to make this watermelon spritzer, cut cubes of fresh watermelon directly into the blender container until it’s full. Then blend it together until it’s smooth – 30 seconds or so.
After it’s blended, pour the mixture through your fine mesh strainer into a pitcher. The strainer will catch all the pulp and seeds, so no need to buy a seedless watermelon here. In fact, I would recommend purposely buying a seeded watermelon because I find them to be sweeter and more flavorful than the seedless kinds.
And then that’s it! You’ve got fresh watermelon juice. I would refrigerate it or pour it over ice before drinking – it’s best when it’s really, really cold.
Turning Watermelon Juice into Watermelon Spritzer
Watermelon juice is fantastic on it’s own. When it’s cold it’s incredibly refreshing – all you have to do is chill, stir, and serve. But it’s also really good served as an alcohol free cocktail – it feels tropical and special.
When making this watermelon spritzer, I wanted something to give it fizz so I tried both club soda and plain sparkling water. I liked the sparkling water more than the club soda because it didn’t take away from the watermelon flavor.
Finally, finish the watermelon spritzer with some grated lime zest and a few sprigs of mint. If you clap the mint leaves in your hands a few at a time, you’ll release their oils and aromas, making the whole drink infused with the flavor. I never put herbs in my drinks without doing this first!
Fresh Watermelon Spritzer
This alcohol free watermelon spritzer is made with fresh watermelon juice, sparkling water, lime, and mint and is impossibly fresh tasting!
- 3 cups strained watermelon juice
- 1 ½ cups plain sparkling water
- Zest 1 small lime
- 1 large bunch mint leaves removed and slapped to release their oils
Cut a small watermelon into cubes and use a blender to blend the cubes into a puree
Pour the watermelon puree through a fine mesh strainer and into a pitcher or measuring cup
Add 3 cups of the strained watermelon juice to a large pitcher, add sparkling water, and lime zest
Remove the mint leaves from the stem – clap the leaves between your hands a few at a time to release their oils and aromas then add to the pitcher
Stir well and serve over ice