the best time of the year, when fruit and vegetables and
herbs are in such abundance.
donít have them in your garden, you can get them at a
farmers market, a produce stand or a grocery store.
to do with such bounty? Salads, desserts and entrťes are
the obvious answers, of course, but why not use fresh
produce to punch up your cocktails, too?
is more refreshing on a hot summerís day than a drink of
cucumber, honeydew, mint and lemon vodka. Or how about a
limeade with gin and cilantro?
easy to make and delicious to drink. And they must be good
for you (right?) because they mix fresh produce with the
a good place to start, because it is so summery and also
because it goes so well with botanical ingredients.
is a drink you sometimes see referred to in old books and
movies, though no one seems to make it anymore. Still, the
idea is as sound as it ever was, particularly if a simple
syrup is involved (which would make it a cocktail called a
just a little step from a Beeís Knees to our summertime
sample, a Thyme Lemonade. Martha Stewart, of all people,
came up with this one. You simply mix up a batch of
thyme-infused simple syrup (itís just sugar dissolved in
water) and stir in fresh lemon juice, water and gin.
a delightful concoction, and just the thing to beat the
summerís heat. The essence of thyme brings an unexpected
complexity and depth to the drink that keeps it from being
overly frivolous. Thank you, Martha.
also the spirit of record in a drink unfortunately called
the Cuke. Vodka is said to be an acceptable substitute, but
the sort of people who would put vodka in this particular
mix are also probably the sort who think the Cuke is a good
name for a drink.
have guessed, it has cucumbers in it, muddled together with
limes and mint. Sugar plays a role, too, along with just
enough sparkling water to keep it light and enliven the
muddled ingredients. A spear of cucumber in each glass adds
just the right touch; itís whimsical, but the aroma also
adds to your enjoyment of the drink.
spritzers had their day in the sun ó the hot summer sun
ó in the 1980s, but they fell out of favor when people
decided they were too sweet. Still, the idea is solid,
particularly at this time of year.
Honeydew Basil Spritzer is just the thing. Honeydew and
basil are a natural summer combination, two different sides
of the same idea of fresh and cool. Add a healthy dose of
light, crisp and fruity sauvignon blanc, and just enough
simple syrup to make it lightly sweet, not Bartles &
splash of soda water is all you need for a bit of
effervescence, without diluting the flavors.
as refreshing is a Lime Vodka, a deceptively simple
combination of limeade and vodka, plus a sprinkling of
minced cilantro. Gin could be used in place of vodka, but
here I think vodka is the better option; this drink requires
a cleaner, less fussy taste. Also, itís called Lime Vodka.
cilantro is the deceptive part, grounding the drink in a
kind of herbal reality and adding a hint of earthiness.
Cilantro is not what you think of when you think of
cocktails, but maybe it should be.
contrast to the other drinks, a Chasing Basil Cocktail is
fairly complex in taste. The difference is a single
ingredient, elderflower liqueur, such as St. Germain, which
had a spasm of popularity a few years ago and can still be
found in quite a few liquor cabinets.
doesnít take much, just a tablespoon of the liqueur to add
a touch of sweet mystery to a drink featuring the
now-familiar blend of cucumber, basil, lime and gin. But
there is one more ingredient from the garden, too, that
makes this drink special: freshly made watermelon juice.
juice is easy to make; all you need is the red part of a
watermelon and a blender. It is certainly an ingredient that
deserves attention when youíre making summertime drinks.
final drink I made, Minty Cucumber Melon Drink, was
different from the others because it wasnít as light. Itís
more of a smoothie with an alcoholic kick.
you do is blend together a cucumber and a couple of cups of
honeydew. Then you muddle some mint in the bottom of a
glass, pour in the juice and add a shot of lemon vodka.
have lemon vodka? Just add regular vodka and a couple of
squeezes of lemon.
summer. Youíre relaxing. Donít worry about it.
cups granulated sugar
bunch fresh thyme, plus sprigs, for garnish
fresh lemon juice (from about 10 lemons)
medium saucepan, bring sugar, thyme and 1 cup water to a
boil. Stir until sugar is dissolved, about 2 minutes. Remove
from heat and stir in lemon juice, gin and 6 cups of cold
water. Strain into a large pitcher. Refrigerate until cold,
at least 1 hour and up to 1 week. Serve over ice, garnished
with thyme sprigs, if desired.
limes, rinsed, divided
packed mint leaves, no stems, plus 6 sprigs for garnish
cup granulated sugar
gin or vodka
Thinly slice 3 limes and place in a pitcher. Juice the rest
and add juice to the pitcher. Add mint leaves. Peel and
slice 2 of the cucumbers and add; add sugar. Muddle
ingredients (a potato masher works well). Add gin or vodka.
Refrigerate for 30 minutes or longer for flavors to blend.
remaining cucumber lengthwise into 6 spears. Fill 6 highball
glasses with ice. Strain mixture from pitcher into each. Top
with sparkling water. Garnish each glass with a sprig of
mint and a cucumber spear, and serve.
by Adam Frank, adapted by the New York Times
honeydew melon, diced
small package of basil (about 12 to 16 leaves)
4 to 5
ounces simple syrup, see note
bottle sauvignon blanc
To make simple syrup, heat 1/2 cup granulated sugar and 1/2
cup water in a small pan, stirring frequently until the
sugar dissolves. You will not need the entire amount of this
syrup for this drink.
together the melon, basil and simple syrup. Divide among 4
glasses. Divide the wine among the glasses and top each one
with a heavy splash of soda water.
limeade, see note
ounces vodka or gin
tablespoon fresh cilantro, finely minced
To make limeade, heat together 1/4 cup granulated sugar and
ĺ cup water, stirring, until sugar dissolves. Add 1/4 cup
lime juice, from about 11/2 limes.
cocktail shaker, shake together limeade, vodka and cilantro
with some ice. Strain into a glass. Add fresh ice and serve.
CHASING BASIL COCKTAIL
basil leaves, torn, plus a sprig for garnish
lime, sliced into wedges for easier muddling
teaspoon raw or granulated sugar, if necessary
ounces gin, or rum or vodka
ounce elderflower liqueur
ounces fresh watermelon juice, see note
To make watermelon juice, remove large seeds from the red
part of a watermelon, and then purťe in a blender. Strain
through a fine-mesh strainer to remove any fibrous parts.
cocktail shaker, thoroughly muddle the basil, cucumber and
lime wedges; include the sugar if the watermelon juice is
not especially ripe and sweet. Add the gin, elderflower
liqueur and watermelon juice, plus a handful of ice. Shake
until cold. Pour into a tall glass, finish with soda water
and garnish with a sprig of basil.
CUCUMBER MELON DRINK
(7-inch) cucumber, peeled
honeydew melon, seeds scooped and chopped
tablespoon fresh mint
ounces lemon vodka
the cucumber and honeydew in a blender. Place the mint in
the bottom of 2 highball glasses and add a little of the
juice to each. Muddle the mint leaves. Add the rest of the
juice and the vodka and fill to the top of the glasses with