Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Cucumber Basil Smash

Cucumber Basil Smash

I can't believe it's October already. I thought I would be ready for some cool fall weather after the sweltering summer we had here in Boston, but I'm a little reluctant to give up the long days and warm evenings on our balcony. I'm sure I'll be embracing autumn with apple picking and spiced cocktails before long. But for now I'm still trying to squeeze a few more summery drinks in.

I don't know what it was about this year, but my backyard garden and the potted plants on my balcony did not thrive. I've only gotten three tomatoes, whereas last year I was freezing huge leftover dishes full of sauce. I tried planting broccoli for the first time, but I clearly didn't know what I was doing and it bolted before producing anything. I trimmed it back and it looks like I might be getting some stalks - we'll see. My zucchini plant put all its effort into one monster zucchini while we were away on vacation and then died. Etc. My basil is one thing that really thrived, and as it flowered I thought I definitely needed to use some in a cocktail.

Basil Flowers

Cucumber and basil is a really winning combination. I've used it before in my Cucumber Basil Gimlet. Since I'd already done the combo with gin, I reached for vodka instead for this drink. On the one hand, I'm not a huge fan of vodka because I don't think it adds much to a cocktail besides alcohol. But on the other hand, sometimes this is exactly what you want. There's enough great flavor in here that vodka felt like a good choice. Not to mention that Thursday, October 4th is National Vodka Day.

A "smash" is a category of cocktails somewhat similar to a julep. In fact, at one time a Whiskey Smash and a Whiskey Julep were basically the same thing - whiskey, sugar, and mint. But a Smash has come to include lemon juice or other citrus as well. Think of it as boozy flavored lemonade. The "smash" part comes in when you muddle your herbs and/or fruit. It's a fun drink template to play around with. Try it with your favorite spirit and some different flavors and see what you can come up with!

Cucumber Basil Smash

Cucumber Basil Smash

2 oz. vodka
3/4 oz. lemon juice
3/4 oz. simple syrup
3 slices cucumber
6 basil leaves

Combine cucumber, basil, and simple syrup at the bottom of a shaker and muddle gently to bruise the basil and release juice from the cucumber. Add vodka and lemon juice and fill shaker with ice. Shake until chilled and strain into a rocks glass filled with ice. Garnish with a cucumber slice and a basil flower.

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