Cucumber Basil Gimlet and its Teetotaler Cousin

Friday, August 31, 2012

It’s the end of August and the beginning of Labor Day weekend, the unofficial end of summer. My Farm to Fork class at Harvard starts on Tuesday and I’m currently contemplating getting a treadmill desk for my home office. My horrid back injury consumed half my summer but is finally becoming a distant memory: I’m back to running and am starting to think about the 2013 Boston Marathon. Autumn is on the horizon and my schedule is filling with cooking demos, lectures, television interviews, and local food events. And let’s not forget the beginning of the 2012-2013 artistic season, including my own company’s epic 15th anniversary. September is a wonderful month in New England, and lots of exciting projects await.

So what does all of that have to do with today’s post, you ask?

Nothing, nothing at all. Just saying.

Even so, it’s been enough time since my last cocktail post and today seems the right occasion, beginning of the holiday weekend and all. Honestly, I tend to prefer fruit-based cocktails, like my all-time favorite raspberry gimlet or blackberry margatini. However, I had some crisp farmers’ market cucumbers and basil simple syrup in the fridge, so I decided to venture into the world of vegetable-based cocktails. And, when I had leftover purée, I created my first ever mocktail to give my teetotaling friends something fun to make, too. Here’s the recipe.

Create a fresh cucumber and lime purée. Roughly chop one cuke and squeeze the juice from one lime into the bowl, or more if you prefer a tarter drink. (Note: I pretty much never peel produce to retain the fiber and texture and reduce food waste.) Use a hand blender to create a smooth mixture. For some body, use the mixture as is. For a pulpless drink, strain before using.

For the cocktail, shake 1 oz purée with 1/2 oz basil simple syrup and 1-2 oz gin—how strong do you like your drinks?—and strain into a martini glass. You could use simple syrup sans basil if you prefer; non-gin drinkers could substitute vodka. I’ve seen recipes that use St. Germain or top with prosecco or soda, but I kept my version classic, which was delicious and bright.

For the mocktail, pour 1 oz of the mixture into a tall rocks glass and top with sparkling water of your choice: lime seltzer is a natural fit, which I selected. Stir and taste. For a sweeter version with more flavor, add 1/2 oz basil simple syrup.

As I said, this was the first time I made a veggie cocktail, and I found it a nice change from my usual fruity-slash-girlie concoctions. Honestly, though, I was way more excited by the mocktail. Something a bit different than my usual sun tea, I adored this refreshing drink and it’s the mocktail I’ll likely serve next time I entertain. Essentially, it’s an elegant homemade soda with only a tiny amount of added sugar from the simple syrup, which could easily be omitted if you like.

Cocktail Confession

Sure, it’s Friday at the time of this writing, but I actually mixed up this drink Monday past on a whim. Yes, I confess, it was a Monday that called for a martini. Er, gimlet.

I then sat down in the dining room to watch the sunset and placed my drink on a makeshift coaster, Bon Appétit magazine. Took a photo, tweeted it, and next thing you know, the editor-in-chief retweets it, as do a few of his followers. Eeek. Had I anticipated that, I would have taken a nicer photo where I hadn’t already drunk a few sips. Minus my fingerprints all over the glass.

Ah, well. Call me, Adam!

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Dr. P.K. Newby is a nutrition scientist, speaker, and author with expertise in all things food, farm to fork, whether preventing obesity and other chronic diseases through diet or teaching planet-conscious eating. As a health expert and food personality, she brings together her passions for food, cooking, science, and sustainability to educate and inspire, helping people eat their way towards better health, one delectable bite at a time. Healthy Hedonism (TM) is her philosophy: Because healthy food shouldn’t suck.

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