behind the bar: lauren fister’s melon rumballa

There is something extra tasty about melon balls when you’re a child. Perhaps it’s because melon balls are only ever made from the best bits of the melon (whoever heard of a melon rind ball?), or maybe it’s because they remind us of cool, refreshing snacks on long summer days. Whatever the reason, I could never eat enough of them during the late summer months. So when I first learned of today’s featured drink, I could barely contain myself. It’s a grown-up version of a fabulous childhood snack and a cocktail to boot! The Melon Rumballa (say it out loud — totally fun, right?) is brought to us by former Martha Stewart and Food & Wine stylist, Lauren Fister. Lauren now works for the simply wonderful collaborative studio, Teroforma. You will find many of Teroforma’s beautiful objects sprinkled throughout the photos. Salud! — Alissa + Ryan

The full recipe continues after the jump . . .

Summer is just reaching its golden peak here in South Norwalk, CT, where we have our studio. The water has recently become a swimmable temp, the humidity is settling down and the farmers’ markets are spilling over with fruits and veggies. Since we like to make our cocktails based on what is locally in season, a walk through the market is usually a great source of inspiration. On our latest trip, it was the fragrant late-season melons — like crenshaw, honeydew, cantaloupe and baby watermelon — along with handfuls of fresh mint that set us along just the path of cocktail creativity we were looking for. Realizing we haven’t mixed a rum drink for our own blog yet, we decided to anchor things with white rum and picked out some ginger soda and vanilla beans as accompaniments. Going for something perfectly summery with the melon and mint, yet nodding to fall with the added ginger and vanilla, we are happy to share our latest creation: The Melon Rumballa.

There are a couple things going on with this cocktail that we should mention right up front. The melon is meant to be eaten between sips of the Melon Rumballa. A good cocktail pick should be served with each glass. At the end, the candied ginger complements all of the other flavors.

Melon Rumballa
Makes about 8 cocktails


  • 3–4 ripe melons, depending on size
  • 1/2 liter white rum
  • 1 bunch fresh mint, cleaned and stemmed
  • 3 limes juiced
  • 8 oz ginger soda
  • 8 oz coconut water
  • whole vanilla beans
  • candied ginger (for garnish)
  • sugar for rimming the glasses
  • ice


1. We made our own vanilla rum and suggest you do, too — it’s fun and allows you to use any quality of spirit you want while controlling the sweetness. Place 1 vanilla bean in a sealed jar or other vessel with rum and let sit. We used our own Issi cruets, which are usually intended for oil & vinegar but work just perfectly for this. Taste frequently until the rum reaches desired flavor. After a week, the rum will be fully infused; however, you can let stand for up to a month for a more intense punch.

2. Use a melon baller to, well, create melon balls and place in the freezer a full hour before serving. If juice from the melons is left over, this can be added to the drink.

3. Muddle mint sprigs and lime juices until well combined.

4. In a pitcher, add muddled mint (and juices), lime juice, rum, ginger soda and coconut water and stir together. Again, a pitcher with a stirrer works best, but you can use a long spoon, too.

5. We love the mad scientist aspect to making cocktails. At this point, taste your drink to see what it needs. Every taste is different, so however you imagine it is how it should be. For more sweetness, we suggest more ginger soda, melon juice or even some simple sugar or pineapple juice. To reduce the sweetness, consider adding a touch more lime juice.

6. Prepare glasses: Run a lime wedge around the rim of each glass and dip in sugar. Add icy melon balls to each glass to fill half way. Place a piece of candied ginger on a pick for an edible garnish.

7. Just before serving, drop in a handful of ice along with icy melon balls and stir.

8. Of course we pulled our glasses, linens and other accessories from our cupboards, all of which can be found at Teroforma. Check out our blog for lots more design, lifestyle and cocktail inspiration. Enjoy!

Teroforma is an independent studio that collaborates with designers and manufacturers around the world to create its range of thoughtfully crafted objects for the table and home. Lauren joined Teroforma in the spring as its Content Director, a role for which she can combine her background as a former stylist for Food & Wine Magazine and Martha Stewart with her love for photography.

  1. great, now you’ve got me craving a cocktail at 10:20 am. seriously though, these look as delicious as they are beautiful. i can’t wait to try this recipe.

  2. Dana says:

    is it happy hour yet? it’s 5pm somewhere, right?

  3. This looks amazing. I love a creative CT girl. :) And gorgeous photos. Cheers!

  4. Lou says:

    Do you think it would work as well to make it quick with just a splash of good vanilla extract instead of infusing the rum? My sister’s 18th is today, and this would be so awesome to try.

  5. Lauren says:

    Certainly! Just remember, a little goes a long way and use a 100% pure vanilla extract. Have a great night!

  6. Rachel Tatem says:

    YUM! Thanks for showing me how

  7. Hannah says:

    These would work so well with the neon wedding that was just posted!

  8. Jordan says:

    This looks incredible. The colors sell the drink for sure! Cant wait to try this myself.

  9. hena tayeb says:

    It looks great.. I love the little glasses.. I’m sure it tastes just as good

  10. That looks delicious!!! The colors are so soft and fruity.

  11. Mary says:

    Any ideas how to make this non-alcoholic while still using the vanilla?

  12. Heidii says:

    The vibrant colours!

  13. Lauren says:

    To make this a non-alcoholic cocktail, you could make a vanilla infused simple syrup and add a splash for that beautiful flavor:

    2 cups sugar, 1 cup water, 2 vanilla beans
    1. Bring the sugar and water to a boil in a saucepan.
    2. Split the vanilla beans lengthwise into halves and place in a heatproof jar or bottle.
    3. Pour the hot syrup over the vanilla beans and let stand for 8 to 10 hours.
    4. Store in the refrigerator for up to one week.

  14. Yoyo says:

    This article is sooo gorgeous! I don’t even need to drink the rum – I just want any kind of summer drink dunked with melon balls.. Keep up the nice work!

  15. Michelle says:

    Just made this cocktail for my husband’s birthday, and if I had to describe it, I would say it’s like a ginger mojito. Steeped the vanilla beans in rum for 4 weeks and also used ginger infused sugar for the glass rim. Very refreshing on our 90 degree Texas October afternoon! This one’s a keeper. Way too easy to drink too many :)

  16. Janet White says:

    Is Ginger soda-Ginger Ale?

  17. juliemarg says:

    thanks for sharing this kind of articles… it can help a lot for those who wants to know how to make it.

  18. Judy says:

    Can’t wait to try it! Looks so refreshing!!!


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