Transfer the pureed cantaloupe to a bowl or measuring pitcher with a pouring spout. Add the simple syrup until the cantaloupe tastes quite sweet. Now dribble in the Campari until you can detect its flavor. Campari is less alcoholic than most spirits, so this mixture can handle more of it, but it has such a strong presence that you want to be careful not to overdo it.
Pour the mixture into your ice pop molds, leaving a little bit of room at the top for the mixture to expand. Insert sticks and freeze until solid, 4 to 5 hours. Unmold and transfer to plastic bags for storage or serve at once.
Combine the sugar and water in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is transparent. Turn off the heat and let cool. Add any spices before the mixture starts to simmer; add any herbs only after you've turned off the heat. Store plain and infused syrups in sealed containers in the fridge.
Makes 1 cup syrup (8 fl oz).
To prep a cantaloupe for pureeing, cut it around its equator and scoop out and dump the seeds and fibers inside. Set each half on a cutting board, cut side down, and lop 1/2 inch off the top horizontally so that you've cut off a flap approximately the size of a circle made by your thumb and finger. Now get the rest of the rind off by slicing longitudinally, as if you had the northern hemisphere on your cutting board and were cutting the surface off each time zone around the world. Once you're done with both hemispheres, your cantaloupe is ready to puree.
Buy only cantaloupes that smell delicious even before cutting, because a scentless cantaloupe is probably a flavorless one. Along with the ideas in this chapter, cantaloupe pairs beautifully with lavender, hyssop, and tequila.
Photograph by Jennifer May