Cooking from the Bar Cart: Spiked Watermelon Gazpacho

Fruit, spice, and spirit combine in this refreshing, tequila-spiked chilled soup

Photo: Katherine Cobbs / Blueline Creative Group

This recipe is perfect for soaking up the last days of summer, and an exercise in tasting and tweaking. The sweetness of the watermelon you use will dictate the amount of vinegar, lime juice, salt, and pepper you add, which is why ranges are provided in the ingredients. Because this soup is best made and refrigerated at least four hours in advance, take a less is more approach to seasoning before chilling. Then taste and adjust to your liking before serving.

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Drunken, or borracho, recipes are common in Latin cuisine but typically involve long, slow cooking. Here, this tequila-spiked soup remains uncooked, so the alcohol lingers. But the ratio is just enough to give the gazpacho flavorful depth minus the boozy bite. This recipe purees watermelon with cucumber and ripe red tomatoes to make a velvety soup. If you prefer chunky gazpacho, simply fold some additional diced watermelon, cucumber, and tomato into the puree before serving. Mint boosts the gazpacho’s refreshing quality, but basil and cilantro would work well here, too. The finishing touch is a silky Tajín-Lime Crema that highlights the yin and yang of sweetness and tang. Place a dollop on top of each bowl, and stir in before the first bite.

See other recipes in our Cooking from the Bar Cart series.


  • Spiked Watermelon Gazpacho (Yield: 6 servings)

  • For the Gazpacho

    • 6 cups (about 3½ lb.) peeled, seeded, and cubed watermelon

    • 1 English (burpless) cucumber, peeled and cubed

    • 2 large ripe red tomatoes, seeded and cut into chunks

    • 2 jalapeño peppers, stemmed and seeded

    • 1 large shallot, minced

    • 6 oz. blanco tequila

    • 1 to 2 tbsp. white wine vinegar

    • 4 to 6 tbsp. fresh lime juice

    • ½ cup lightly packed mint leaves

    • 1 to 1½ tsp. sea salt, or more to taste

    • ½ to 1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper, or more to taste

    • Pinch cayenne (optional)

    • Avocado oil, for garnish

    • Mint leaves, for garnish

    • Lime zest, for garnish

    • Tajín seasoning, for garnish

  • For the Tajín-Lime Crema

    • ½ cup sour cream

    • 2 tbsp. honey

    • Finely grated zest of 1 lime

    • ½ tsp. Tajín seasoning


  1. Add the watermelon, cucumber, tomatoes, jalapeños, shallot, tequila, 1 tablespoon vinegar, 4 tablespoons lime juice, mint leaves, 1 teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon pepper, and pinch cayenne (if desired) to a blender. Blend until smooth. Transfer to the refrigerator to chill at least 4 hours or overnight.

  2. Prepare the Tajín-Lime Crema by stirring together the sour cream, honey, lime zest, and Tajín seasoning. Cover and refrigerate.

  3. Once the soup is chilled, return it to the blender. Blend on low speed for 1 minute. Taste and adjust seasoning, adding more vinegar, lime juice, salt, or pepper as desired. Blend to incorporate any additions. Ladle soup into serving bowls. Top each with a dollop of the Tajín-Lime Crema. Garnish with a drizzle of good avocado oil, mint leaves, lime zest, and a sprinkle of Tajín seasoning.

Katherine Cobbs is a cookbook author and editor. Her recent books are Pantry Cocktails (2021), Tequila & Tacos (2020), and Cookies & Cocktails (2019) published by Simon & Schuster. She also developed recipes for Garden & Gun’s The Southerner’s Cookbook – Recipes, Wisdom, and Stories.