Midori…a flavor as ancient as…ummm around 1978. This generic honeydew-mellon-with-a-kiss-of-pear flavored liqueur has titillated the uninitiated, the sweet cocktail lover, the club-hopper and disco queen, and the ladies night out, as far back as the first season of The Love Boat. I think it’s time we toasted this green ode to the non-whiskey drinker with a short list of her own cocktails. For some reason only the fates know, I’ve been brushing up against Midori more than I usually do. The bar gods were trying to tell me something.
Sent down to my basement bar for a round recently, a guest cracked into my opened fifteen year old, non-intentionally aged, Midori (how they were able to twist the sugar-sealed cap off, I’ll never know) and whipped up a quick round of Mellon Ball cocktails over ice. The very next night, I watched the Fright Night remake in which the vampire hunter, Peter Vincent, only quaffed down large amounts of the crackled green bottled yum-juice. The next day at my local liquor store, a huge (and on sale) Midori display greeted me, haunted me, taunted me. Old, crusty bottle finished, new bottle on bar, I write this piece.
Made only in Japan till 1987 and named after their word for emerald green by Suntory Holdings Limited, the muskmelon-flavored cordial is now made in three countries celebrated for their rich cocktail and spirit reputations. Mexico, Japan and France all are home to ivy-covered, tucked away Midori manufacturing plants. Would you believe the famous NYC disco, Studio 54, held the original Midori Launch Party? How significant is that? John Travolta was there enjoying the new and mysterious Midori.
From the Midori launch in 1978 where it trickled out in small quantities, one-hundred thousand cases were sold in 1981. In a little over four years, everyone out on the town was slorpin’ down the glowing liqueur in sours, cocktails and shots. Besides the sweet, melon flavored, non-threatening taste, what created the popularity? Well, nothing is the answer. The taste that mixes amazingly well with sours has been disco dancing happily in our mouths ever since first mirrored disco balls teamed with Gloria Gaynor for our attention. Mr. Booze has to wonder if Midori, not cocaine, was the bell-bottomed aphrodisiac of the me-generation. They, at the very least, boogied together.
Mr. Booze happily accepts Midori and her place now on his home bar shelf. I know from experience that many of my guests just do not appreciate, nor do they even want to try, a drink made with stronger, more complex and unforgiving spirits. How many times have you poured a martini, manhattan or other traditional cocktail only to have to pour it away at the end of the evening? Midori cocktails disappear on my bar. My wife and her friends love them. I’ll have a bourbon while I mix up a batch of something Midori for the soft-drinker. No sweat, no foul …and my guests are happy.
Below are a few tried-n-true Midori cocktails.
Let’s begin with guns a’blastin’ as we pull off the gloves and dive head-first into Midori World. This ode to the early eighties takes no prisoners as she smooth-sails straight down the drinker’s throat. “Mmmmm” will probably be the first thing you’ll hear from the stay-at-home mom on the other side of the bar. “Danger, Will Robinson” is what she should be saying. Three of these and a friendly gathering of neighbors ’round the home bar could turn into a key-party pretty darned fast. Hang-over guaranteed if more than two are consumed. Delicious? Yes-indeedee. Potent, fun and odd? Yes-indeedee.
Here we go –
- 1 oz Midori
- 1/2 oz Blue Curacao
- 1/2 oz Banana Liqueur
- 1/2 oz lemon juice
Mix everything over ice in a shaker. Pour it all, ice included, in a hi-ball glass and top with club soda.
Green Eyed Tiger
Discovered directly on the official Midori site which is a very nice one, by the way, this is the “must try” of the Midori cocktails I’m writing about. Pretty dangerous and sophisticated, this would be the drink to pour the night you stay in and cook something Asian or order in really good Chinese, Thai, or sushi. I love fresh ginger, and any drink that calls for it, I usually have to try a.s.a.p. You should be using all fresh juices, and you’ll find, after your first sip, that there’s nothing whimsical or silly about this one. Midori bumps a level.
Here we go –
- 1 tablespoon+ a little more if you like spicy, freshly chopped ginger
- 1 1/3 oz Silver Tequila
- 1 oz Midori
- 2/3 oz fresh orange juice
- 1/3 oz + to taste, fresh lime juice
Muddle the ginger with the juices in the bottom of a wide shaker. Add cracked ice then the rest of the ingredients. Strain up into a chilled cocktail glass (double strain if you can manage). Garnish with a thin, fresh slice of ginger.
Midori Cider House
A very tasty entry into the Winter Warmer category, I found this drink a little sweet for my tastes, but my wife and a friend enjoyed it very much. It’s twenty-eight degrees outside as I write this, so I have to include it. If you like cider and rum, you should give this one a try.
Here we go –
- 4 oz hot cider
- 1 1/3 oz Midori
- 1 oz dark rum (Myers for me)
- couple dashes Angustora bitters
Pour the cool ingredients into a glass or mug capable of handling hot liquids. Add hot cider then garnish the rim of the cup with a cinnamon dusted, thin slice of apple.
I’d be very remiss in my duties if I didn’t include this baby. This is the one folks! This cocktail was the queen of the disco back in 1978-79. She cooled sweaty people in sequined dresses and white leisure suits hot from a night on the floor. It was because a know-it-all at my last party knew how to whip a few up that I went on to explore the green, crackle-bottle even further. The Melonball could easily be your first stop on a Midori journey. Hell, play some Journey on your Midori journey. It works. Dance with me, I want to be your partner…
Here we go –
- Over a goblet or double old-fashioned glass filled with ice pour
- 2 oz Midori
- 1 oz Vodka
Stir, and add either orange juice, pineapple juice, grapefruit juice … or a magical mixture of all three.
Sip as you dance the night away.
This will make a little mess on your bar. There are four sticky ingredients in this one, but that being said, she’s worth it. This last entry in today’s celebration of the glow-green Mellon cordial is the cocktail to make for the person who drinks but doesn’t like the taste of alcohol. Yummy! With only the “illusion” that you’re not drinking booze, this is the drink to offer the guest you want to get secrets out of. Two of these will cause, most definitely, the gossip train to leave the station. Lips will loosen, and gab will spill. Tasty and a little bit naughty at the same time.
Here we go –
- 1 1/2 oz Midori
- 1/2 oz Triple Sec
- 1/2 oz Vodka
- 2/3 oz lemon juice
- 1 1/2 oz pineapple juice
Mix with ice then pour over ice in a short glass or strain into cocktail glass. Garnish with an orange peel.
Midori…the bright green spirit which came out in the thick of the seventies. Classic, stood the test of time, a must-have on every home bar? The verdict is still out, but the jury is kinda enjoying themselves. Home bars are made for experimenting with things like…Midori.