The honeysuckle in my backyard bloomed over Memorial Day weekend, and after I stuck my whole face into the plant to breathe in the fragrance for a good, long while, I turned my attention to making honeysuckle simple syrup.
Then, of course, I started to think cocktails. I wanted to create something super summery, and watermelon is about the most summery flavor I can think of. I looked around my yard for anything else I could use in the drink and decided that lemon balm might make a good addition. It did.
This cocktail, which I call a Backyard Picnic Bradford, is definitely something you’ll want to share with a friend, so it’s scaled to make two straight-up drinks poured into martini glasses. A Bradford, I recently learned, is a martini that’s shaken, not stirred. Since this is shaken and served in a martini glass, I took a little liberty with the name.

Prep time: 10 minutes 

Total time: 10 minutes

Yields: 2 servings

Backyard Picnic Bradford


  • 1 1/4 oz honeysuckle simple syrup
  • 8 lemon balm leaves
  • 3 oz vodka
  • 4 oz watermelon juice
  • 1 oz fresh-squeezed lemon juice
  • Additional lemon balm leaves for garnish, if desired
Cooking directions
  1. Pour the honeysuckle simple syrup into a cocktail shaker and add the lemon balm leaves. Using a muddler or a sturdy wooden spoon, muddle the leaves, crushing them really well to release their oils.
  2. Add the vodka, watermelon juice and lemon juice.
  3. Fill the shaker with ice.
  4. Shake well.
  5. Pour into two martini glasses.
  6. Float a couple of lemon balm leaves on top for garnish, if desired.
If you don’t have honeysuckle growing in your yard and you don’t have another source for it, you can use a traditional simple syrup. You may be able to pick up lemon balm at the farmers market. If you have the space, consider planting some lemon balm. It comes back every year and seems impossible to kill.

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Robin Shreeves ( @rshreeves ) focuses on food from a family perspective from her home base in New Jersey.

Backyard Picnic Bradford: A foraged cocktail
Honeysuckle and lemon balm foraged from the backyard or your farmers market flavor this vodka cocktail.