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Watermelon Mint Lemonade

Ingredients

mint simple syrup (optional) * ½ cup granulated sugar * ½ cup water * ¼ cup tightly packed fresh mint leaves, stems removed and crushed * 6 cups fresh watermelon, rinds removed and cut into chunks * ¾ cup fresh lemon juice (6-8 medium lemons) * ½ cup cold water (plus more, if needed) * ½ cup fresh mint leaves, tightly packed with stems removed * fresh mint sprigs, for garnish * lemon slices, for garnish

Instructions

To make the simple syrup, add the sugar, water and crushed mint leaves to a small saucepan and heat over medium-high heat. Stir until the sugar dissolves completely. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and discard mint leaves. Cool completely before using. Add watermelon chunks, lemon juice and ½ cup cold water to a blender and blend until liquefied. Pour through a fine mesh strainer to remove any larger particles. Taste and add more water, if needed. Sweeten with mint-infused simple syrup, if desired. Bruise ½ cup fresh mint leaves with fingers to release oils and add to the bottom of a large glass pitcher or jar. If serving immediately, add ice cubes to the container and pour the watermelon mixture over top. Add fresh lemon slices to the container for garnish. To serve, pour over ice and add a sprig of fresh mint and a lemon slice for garnish.