In recent years, the melon liqueur known as Midori has returned from its role as a maligned 1980s mixer to a respectable place on the backbar. Aided by a revised formula in 2012 that draws on two varieties of Japanese melon – yubari and cantaloupe –the return without irony highlighter-tinted liquor shows no signs of slowing down.
Beverage Advisor John deBary’s Three Ingredient Midori Sour let the new recipe shine in all its glory; as the name suggests, its pared-back take simply calls for Midori, a heavy dose of lime juice and egg white for texture. Likewise, simplicity is the key to Midori Cream Soda by Coco Seo of Bar Moga in New York. A mix of Midori, Japanese whiskey, sparkling water and vanilla ice cream, the drink nods to the ice cream floats of his childhood.
But the fruity aromatic liqueur is also found in more complex iterations. Bobby Heugel of Anvil Bar and Refuge in Houston, who has “an undying love for Midori”, wanted to create a stirred drink with the liquor. “I knew the cocktail would be too sweet without a terrific bitter companion,” he says. In his Greenhorn, which he dubs a kind of “fun dropout Negroni,” the solution came with the addition of Suze alongside tequila blanco and, echoing the leafy Midori, a neon green maraschino cherry. Chall Gray of Little Jumbo in Asheville, North Carolina also offsets the distinct melon flavor by adding herbal elements in the form of gin and genepy into the electric circus.
During this time, at Kitten Katanaby Masa Urushido Melon-lime soda brings a layered approach to traditional highball, tripling the citrus with sudachi – a hybrid of yuzu and tangerine – Persian limes and lime-flavored vodka. The Redemption #3 from Philadelphia’s Spice Finch takes this layering approach to another level. Chartreuse green color blocks with Midori’s signature hue, while Suntory Toki whiskey, wasabi tincture and a matcha garnish transform the drink into an unmistakable tribute to Midori’s homeland.
Midori’s new drinks releases are a celebration of today’s 90s-inspired culture, but there’s no better way to honor that nostalgia than to go with a classic. Savoring melon liqueur in its most common form is applying a tinted highlighter Tokyo Iced Tea, cherry filling and all. As Guy Fieri once said, “This will be a party favourite!”