And as we begin to celebrate summer with all those grills and backyards and whatnots, why not prepare yourself with a refreshing summery cocktail?
By Bowen Close
I often engage in what I like to call “improvisational bartending.” I take a look at what I have around the house, usually try to incorporate fresh fruits, veggies, and herbs, and go from there. We generally keep a pretty fully stocked bar in the house, and the more I do this the more I learn about what flavors go well together (and what don’t … like cognac and creme de menthe …). I like to be pretty seasonal about the whole thing, and I think it might be time to categorize this as a summer cocktail.
It certainly feels like summer here in Southern California. I went for my normal run this morning and wheezed and sweated my way through the streets of Claremont, realizing far too late that it’s already too warm at 8:30 a.m. to be exerting oneself outdoors. I try to avoid talking about the weather when I write (since, you know, not everyone lives in Southern California) but I feel comfortable saying all of this now, knowing that it’s finally not just here that things have been warming up.
And as we begin to celebrate summer with all those grills and backyards and whatnots, I suggest you begin to prepare yourself with a refreshing summery cocktail.
This is the time of year when I crave certain things – like seafood (grilled oysters are the key to happiness, I’ve discovered), and grilled vegetables, and cut up seedless watermelon eaten 1/2 melon at a time. And with those items I like certain types of beverages – white wine, sangria, super cold beer, and fresh and icy cocktails.
I’ve long been a lover of cucumber in cocktails. Fresh and cold and revitalizing – like a spa day in a cocktail glass. Because cucumber pairs so well with floral and herbal flavors, rosewater and gin are natural companions, and together they make a cocktail easy enough to make when you get home from work but fancy enough for a garden party.
Did I just say that? Garden party? Sigh. I’ve been watching too much Downton Abbey.
Anyway – summer is here now, and you should probably make yourself a drink to cope with the transition.
- 2 thick slices cucumber, quartered (any kind will work here, and no need to peel the American or waxy-skinned kinds)
- 2 thin slices cucumber for garnish (optional, and peel if you're using a waxy-skinned kind and want to be able to eat the garnish)
- ¼ scant tsp. rosewater
- 2 ounce gin
- ½ ounce lime juice
- ½ ounce simple syrup
- Place the thick slices of cucumber in the bottom of a cocktail shaker and muddle until the pieces are broken apart. (Alternatively, put the cucumber into a bowl or onto a plate and smash until they release a good amount of liquid and the pieces are broken apart - then put the smashed cucumber into your shaker.)
- Add the rosewater, gin, lime juice, and simple syrup to the shaker and fill at least halfway with ice. Shake and strain into a cocktail glass, and garnish with 2 thin slices of cucumber (if desired).
Bowen Close believes that food should make people happy and healthy, and loves bringing together people with creative, delicious food made from the heart. She loves making farm-inspired, flavorful dishes with sustainable ingredients - whether that's a big plate of roasted veggies, a towering chocolate layer cake, or a cocktail utilizing backyard ingredients - and collects recipes and other food-related stories on her website, Bowen Appétit. She is a chef, cooking instructor, and food writer living in Southern California with her husband and fully stocked pantry.