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The Rathbone

Rathbone

Ahh, summer in New England…. three months of wishing it was friggin’ autumn already. What can a guy do? Well, if you know me, you know the answer to that. Summer drinks are generally uninspiring, usually a mix of clear liquor, some muddled fruit and a splash of soda and sugar. Strawberry mojitos. Lame. Watermelon margaritas. Really? If you’re seeing it on the menu at Applebee’s, you won’t be seeing it on the menu in my restaurants.

The idea is sound. You want something fresh and invigorating. It shouldn’t be too cloying or tart, and the liquor doesn’t need to overpower. In short, fruity, fresh, and long, meaning a drink you can enjoy over time. A strawberry old fashioned, for example, is simply not a good idea. A strawberry mojito, however, was a good idea fifteen years ago; but I think it’s high time we moved forward and tried something a little more classy. Because, after all, what are we bartenders if not classy?… heh….

Think food. Think picnics. Think salads, think fruit cocktail. What is both refeshing and different? At my restaurant I decided to mix cucumber with basil and green tea, and some citrus and sugar for balance. Cucumber and basil have been done, I admit, ad nauseum. But I wasn’t looking to muddle. I wanted concentrated flavor but as little work as possible when actually mixing the drink to order. Efficiency during service is key to volume bartending, and one of the reasons bad bars never employ craft mixologists. There seems to be a chasm between how to get things done fast, but make them delicious. Well, I decided to juice the two ingredients together. The result was so massively flavorful I had to add water to make it palatable.

The recipe originally called for gin, and since we sell only American booze at my place, the obvious choice of Hendrick’s was out of the question. I decided to use the decidedly better Uncle Val’s, from 35 Maple Street, Sonoma, CA. With cucumber, lemon, sage, and lavender, it was the perfect choice. We put it on the menu, however, with Vodka, seeing as we had a menu laden with gin drinks. I chose Smooth Ambler, from West Virigina, because it’s sweet and creamy. The drink, however, is always available, and of course recommended, with Uncle Val’s Gin.

2oz Uncle Val’s Gin (or Smooth Ambler Vodka)
2oz Cucumber Basil Juice*
.75oz Green Tea Simple Syrup**
.75oz Freshly Sqeezed Lime Juice (always strain your fresh juices to remove pulp and pips)
Shake vigorously with ice and double strain into a cocktail glass.
Garnish with a freshly slapped basil leaf (just float it on top.)

*Cucumber Basil Juice:
Juice one peeled cucumber for every 2 thin basil stalks. Throw the stalks, leaves and all, right in the juicer with the cucumber. Make sure the stalks are not too thick, or they will bring unwanted bitterness to the party. Double strain your juice through a cheesecloth lined chinois. Add one and half parts water to one part juice.

**Green Tea Simple Syrup:
Steep four bags of green tea in .75L of hot water. I use water from the tap on a coffee maker in the restaurant. Add an equal part granulated white sugar, superfine if possible. Stir or shake until incorporated. Remove tea bags, and strain through cheesecloth to remove any loose tea leaves that may have been left behind.

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2 Comments

  1. That sounds awesome!

    Reply

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