You may know vividly green, melon-flavored Midori as a novelty of happy hours past. But today, bartenders the world over have reinvented the liqueur’s narrative. And while its revival first seemed to be a passing, nostalgic trend, any of these mixologists will now tell you there’s more than meets the eye to this anachronistic alcohol.
Its renaissance was set in motion in 2012, when Beam Suntory, Midori’s parent company, updated the recipe. Available stateside the following year, the improved version brought down the sugar and subbed in natural flavors for artificial ingredients. Nuanced, Midori-doused drinks slowly began to appear on an assortment of beverage menus and, just like that, green was good again.
Melon liqueur is now an increasingly common cocktail component in casual and complicated drinks alike. It’s become a popular addition to piña coladas across Mexico, for example. In Italy, Mario Farulla, bar manager at Rome’s Baccano, has become known for his intriguing edible rice paper-garnished drink combining Midori and vodka that’s been infused with chicken marrow.
Closer to home, Chaim Dauermann, bar manager at The Up & Up in New York City, was an early champion of Midori’s resurgence. He continues to give new life to the OG order with the superlative Insanely Good Midori Sour, which adds gin, egg white and housemade lime cordial.
In the same city, a bottle of melon liqueur sits newly and prominently aglow at Osamil. Reyangelo “Gelo” Honrade, the beverage director, uses it to create experiments like the Midori Ur Mind, a split base of Midori and mezcal that gets stirred with pandan extract, coconut liqueur and coconut cordial, all garnished with a dehydrated lime.
More proof of its staying power: Midori has proliferated venues across the U.S., too. At Hank’s Oyster Bar’s Old Town location in Alexandria, Virginia, Bar Manager Alex Taylor shakes up a complex and bitter-tinged sour riff with gin, gentian liqueur and celery bitters. Meanwhile, in Denver, Big Trouble at Zeppelin Station serves a large-format Ruinart Champagne and Midori cocktail created by expert mixologist Lana Gailani.
With creative uses only continuing to rise, melon-flavored liqueur has officially arrived.
Still not ready to return to Midori? Try these taste-alikes.
Published: January 3, 2020