Happy Hour: Cucumber-Basil Gimlet Cocktail

You didn’t think I’d let St. Pat’s pass me by without at least a mention of a cocktail, did you?

As you can tell from my design post a few days back, I’m not in much of an Irish spirit this year and am opting to celebrate with green decor rather than with green beer. It may just be that I have St. Patrick’s fatigue considering all the ways I’ve celebrated in the past. Let’s see, there’s been Guinness and coffee ice cream floats, beer cocktails, and of course, the odd-sounding-yet-delicious Oyster Stout.

This year I’m all for drinking something green but I’m switching it up a bit. I’ve been tending my sister’s garden and with all the unseasonably warm weather we’ve been having, I’ve harvested loads of herbs and even a few Persian cucumbers. They’ve made their way into many a recipe including this Cucumber-Basil Gimlet Cocktail that’s become an instant classic.

The key here is a seriously good-quality gin and my gin of choice has been Bloom Gin. My friend is helping to bring this new London dry gin to the U.S. and she sent me a bottle to try. The idea is they wanted to create a gin that was more floral and feminine, a sort of ladies’ liquor, if you will. The result is a beautifully crated gin with floral notes that make it a fabulous match to aromatics. A few ways I’m using it are mixed with floral honey in a classic Bee’s Knees, stirred together with a dash of ginger liqueur, or shaken up with all those cucumbers and basil.

The only hitch is that Bloom is still a relative newbie to the States. It’s currently available in the Bay Area and a few select markets, but it’ll likely be some time before it becomes prevalent. But don’t fret, this cocktail is still a winner with another subtly flavored good-quality London-style dry gin, such as  Hendricks.

Cucumber Basil Gimlet Cocktail Recipe

Cucumber-Basil Gimlet Cocktail Recipe

  • Makes: 2/3 cup simple syrup//1/2 cup cucumber juice//One cocktail
  • Total Time: 4 1/2 hours to make the simple syrup
  • Hands On Time: Less than 5 minutes

Ingredients

  • For the basil simple syrup:
  • 2/3 cup agave nectar
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 2 cups lightly packed fresh basil leaves
  • For the cucumber juice
  • 3 to 4 medium persian cucumbers
  • 1 teaspoon freshly-squeezed lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon agave nectar
  • For the cocktail
  • 4 to 5  fresh basil leaves
  • 2 ounces Bloom or another London dry gin
  • 3/4 ounce cucumber juice
  • 3/4 ounce basil simple syrup
  • 1/4 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
  • Ice

Instructions

  • For the basil simple syrup:

Whisk together water and agave in a small saucepan then place over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Remove from heat, add basil, and set aside at room temperature to cool, at least 30 minutes. Pour through a fine mesh sieve, discard basil, then cover simple syrup, and refrigerate until chilled, at least 4 hours. (Can be made up to 1 week ahead. Store refrigerated in an airtight container.)

  • For the cucumber juice:

Combine in a mini food processor or blender and puree until smooth. Strain through a mesh sieve, pushing on the back to extract juices (you should have about 1/2 cup). (Can be made up to 4 days ahead. Store refrigerated in an airtight container and shake before using.)

  • For the cocktail:

Reserve one basil leaf for garnish then place remaining basil in a shaker and bruise a few times with a muddler.  Add remaining ingredients (except that basil leaf for garnish) and add ice. Shake until chilled then strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Smack reserved basil leaf between your hands over the glass (to release essential oils) then float on the cocktail’s surface and serve.


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