What Is Midori Melon Liqueur?

Production, Taste, and Recipes

Midori Melon Liqueur

The Spruce / S&C Design Studios

Midori is a popular brand of melon-flavored liqueur. It's instantly recognizable as the bright green bottle that shines behind many bars across the world. Originally produced in Japan by Suntory, it is a sweet liqueur made with neutral grain spirit, brandy, and sugar. The deliciously sweet flavor comes from two types of Japanese melons.

Useful for making spectacular green cocktails, Midori is a versatile liqueur that pairs well with a variety of flavors. Midori has captivated drinkers and bartenders alike in just a few decades and is considered an essential liqueur for any well-stocked bar. Though it does have competition, it remains one of the best-known liqueurs and is a great choice for any drink recipe that calls for a melon liqueur.

Fast Facts

  • Ingredients: Neutral grain spirit, brandy, sugar, melon
  • Proof:  40
  • ABV: 20%
  • Calories in a 1 1/2-ounce shot: 99
  • Origin: Japan
  • Taste: Sweet, melon
  • Serve: on the rocks, cocktails, shots

What Is Midori Made From?

Midori launched in 1964 under the name Hermes Melon Liqueur. It was developed by Shinjiro Torii, the founder of Suntory Japanese Whisky, and exclusively produced and available in Japan.

The word midori roughly means "green" in Japanese, and it was a fitting name for the rebranded liqueur when it made its debut on the world market. The 1978 introduction to the United States was marked by a famous party at New York City's Studio 54 nightclub. It didn't take long for it to become the green ingredient of choice in bars worldwide and find its way into countless sweet and colorful cocktails and shots.

Today, the making of the famous green liqueur is a global affair. The majority of the world's Midori has been produced in Mexico since 1987, and production in France began in 2003 to cover the European market. The melons continue to be sourced and processed there in Japan, which is noted for growing some of the best and most expensive melons in the world.

Midori is flavored with two varieties of melon:

  • Yubari King Melon: Often touted as the most expensive fruit, the yubari melon is a cross between two cantaloupe varieties and grown near Yubari City in Japan. It has a juicy sweetness and orange flesh.
  • Musk Melon: The musk melons used to make Midori are grown in Japan's Aichi and Shizuoka provinces. Another high-quality melon, the juicy fruit is known for its sweetness and green flesh, which inspired Midori's color.

To make Midori, a neutral grain spirit base is infused with the yubari and musk melon in Japan. The base spirit is then shipped to Mexico and France for finishing. Before bottling, the melon spirit is blended with cognac and sugar; food coloring gives it that signature green color.​

The formula for Midori has changed over time. In the 2000s, the brand sought to appeal to bartenders' requests for a less sweet liqueur by reducing the sugar. The alcohol content has also softened, and today it rests at 20 percent alcohol by volume (40 proof).

What Does Midori Taste Like?

Midori tastes like a very sweet melon. The specific type of melon is not really noticeable; it is more of a melon mix that some people liken to honeydew and musk melon. Midori has a candy-like sweetness and lingering melon flavor in the surprisingly somewhat dry finish.

How to Drink Midori

For most people's taste, Midori is too sweet to drink straight from the bottle. It is best when slightly diluted and ice-cold; a few ice cubes makes a pleasantly sweet sipper. Better yet, add soda (nothing too sweet) and serve it over ice as tall or short as you like.

Midori is designed to shine in cocktails, and it's a very versatile mixer. Some drink recipes—including the famous Japanese slipper and Midori sour—use it as the base liquor, mixing it with a sweetener and citrus juice. Other recipes pair it with vodka, rum, or tequila, and Midori is an interesting addition to whiskey cocktails.

The majority of Midori drinks are simple and use a fruit-on-fruit pairing. It mixes well with apple, citrus fruits, cranberry, raspberry, and pineapple, but will handle most other fruits, too. There are even times when it appears in creamy cocktails, and Midori's color is a popular addition to fun party shooter recipes. Depending on how much Midori is poured and the color of the other mixers, many of these drinks are some shade of green.

Cocktail Recipes

You can use Midori in any cocktail that simply calls for a melon liqueur. There are, however, Midori-specific drinks that were created for the liqueur.

Where to Buy Midori

You should have no problem finding a bottle of Midori among the liqueurs and cordials at any liquor store. It's a top-shelf brand, so look up when shopping and expect to pay a premium price for a bottle. While other green melon liqueurs are available, try to avoid the really inexpensive ones to save money because they're often artificially flavored and cloying.

How to Store Midori

When you get Midori home, store it like any other liqueur. A cool place out of direct sunlight will extend its shelf-life, and there's no need to refrigerate it. Pop the bottle into the freezer for a quick chill if you like, but it's low-proof and has a freezing point around 22 degrees Fahrenheit. If left in the freezer too long, it may get slushy. Opened bottles should be tightly sealed because air can deteriorate the flavor, though Midori typically won't go bad for a year or more.