For the past several years, the melon liqueur known as Midori has been inching its way back from its role as a maligned mixer of the 1980s to a respectable spot on the backbar. Helped along by a revised formula in 2012 that leans on two Japanese melon varieties—yubari and muskmelon—the unironic return of the highlighter-hued liqueur shows no signs of slowing.
Beverage consultant John deBary’s Three-Ingredient Midori Sour lets the new recipe shine in all its glory; as the name suggests, his pared-down rendition calls simply on Midori, a hefty dose of lime juice and egg white for texture. Likewise, simplicity is key in the Midori Cream Soda from Coco Seo of Bar Moga in New York. A mixture of Midori, Japanese whisky, soda water and vanilla ice cream, the drink nods to the ice cream floats of her childhood.
But the fruit-forward, aromatic liqueur finds itself in more complex iterations, too. Bobby Heugel of Anvil Bar and Refuge in Houston, who has “an undying love for Midori,” wanted to create a stirred drink with the liqueur. “I knew the cocktail would be too sweet without a formidable bittering companion,” he says. In his Greenhorn, which he dubs a “fun dropout Negroni of sorts,” the solution came with the addition of Suze alongside blanco tequila, and, echoing the verdant Midori, a neon green maraschino cherry. Chall Gray of Little Jumbo in Asheville, North Carolina, likewise offsets the distinct melon flavor by adding herbal elements in the form of gin and génépy in the Electric Circus.
Meanwhile, at Katana Kitten, Masa Urushido’s Melon-Lime Soda brings a layered approach to the traditional highball, tripling down on the citrus with sudachi—a hybrid of yuzu and mandarin—Persian limes and lime-flavored vodka. The Redemption #3 from Philadelphia’s Spice Finch takes this layering approach to another level. Green Chartreuse color-blocks with Midori’s signature shade, while Suntory Toki whisky, wasabi tincture and a matcha garnish transform the drink into an unmistakable homage to Midori’s homeland.
The new takes on Midori drinks are a celebration of today’s ’90s-inspired, high-low drinking culture, but there’s no better way to honor that nostalgia than to opt for a classic. To enjoy the melon liqueur in its most common form is to down a highlighter-hued Tokyo Iced Tea, cherry garnish and all. As Guy Fieri once noted, “That’ll be a party favorite!”