Cocktail: Pink Perfection

Pink Perfection is the name of a much-loved camellia, but this drink with orange-infused rum and fresh watermelon juice, excerpted from JULIA REED's SOUTH, comes pretty close to perfection in a glass
pink perfection cocktail

Julia Reed shares her recipe for Pink Perfection cocktails, a refreshing summer drink named after a favorite camellia.

Pink Perfection is the name of a much-loved camellia, but this drink comes pretty close to perfection in a glass. Unless you live near a juice bar that makes fresh, strained watermelon juice daily, I strongly recommend making the juice yourself. The “fresh” stuff sold in stores in plastic bottles is usually far too cloying, and besides, this is easy to do. And if you prefer vodka to the rum, the drink works just as well. — Julia Reed


Serves 1

You can do the math on this and make up a whole pitcher of Pink Perfection if you’re having a crowd. In that case, I’d mix without ice, so as not to dilute the drink, and chill.


  • ¼ cup Orange-Infused Rum (recipe below)
  • ¾ cup Fresh Watermelon Juice (recipe below)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon simple syrup
  • 1 orange slice for garnish
  • 1 mint sprig for garnish


  1. Combine the rum, watermelon juice, lime juice, simple syrup, and some ice in a cocktail shaker and shake.
  2. Strain into a glass and garnish with an orange slice and a mint sprig.


Makes 1 liter


  • 2 large navel oranges, rinsed, dried, and cut into 1/4 inch slices
  • 1 liter white rum


  1. Cut the orange slices in half and place in a pitcher large enough to accommodate them and the rum. Pour the rum over the oranges and refrigerate overnight.

Note: You’ll have plenty of the infused rum left over. Strain the remaining infused rum into a mason jar and store indefinitely in the refrigerator.


Makes 6 cups


  • 6 pounds seedless watermelon, rind removed, cut into 1-inch chunks (about 12 cups)


  1. Set a fine mesh strainer over a large bowl (I use a stockpot, especially when I double this recipe) and set aside.
  2. Place the watermelon in a blender and blend until liquefied, about 1 minute. Pour through the strainer into the bowl and use a spatula to push the liquid through until only the pulp remains. Discard the pulp. You will have to do this in batches, but you should have about 6 cups watermelon juice when done.
  3. Chill until cold, or up to 1 day

By Julia Reed | Photography by Paul Costello

Excerpted from Julia Reed’s South: Spirited Entertaining and High-Style Fun All Year Long (Rizzoli New York, 2016).

Remembering Julia Reed

Julia Reed's South book cover