The signature cocktail for Rich's "Hello to Summer" rooftop gathering was inspired by the fragrant summer herbs already flourishing in his lush outdoor planters. Built around a handful of muddled basil, mint and parsley, this drink tastes fresh from the garden. You can find the same freshness, whether from the basil plant on your kitchen counter or at your local market. Here's our recipe for the most refreshing cocktail of the summer.
This drink is a summery variation on the classic gimlet, which is made with vodka, fresh lime juice, simple syrup, and a touch of soda water.
Since he's originally from England, Rich is used to having cucumbers as a centerpiece of an afternoon party — in proper tea sandwiches, of course! In this cocktail, he takes this garden party standby and uses it to give the drink its lovely pale green hue.
Muddling the herbs brings out their flavors, and is what gives the drink its distinctive garden-fresh taste.
Cucumber Pearl Cooler
Handful of herb leaves, such as basil, mint and/or parsley (we used all three!)
1 3/4 ounces Pearl Black Label Vodka
1 ounce simple syrup
1 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
2 ounces pureed cucumber juice (see notes below)
Soda or sparkling water
Place herb leaves into the bottom of a cocktail glass or shaker. Using a muddler or wooden spoon, mash the ingredients to release the flavors. (Add a splash of soda if necessary.) Fill with ice and add vodka, simple syrup, lime juice, cucumber juice, and a splash of soda.
For cucumber juice, peel and coarsely chop 2 cucumbers (about 1 1/2 pounds). Transfer to a food processor and blend until smooth. Pour the liquid through fine strainer set over large bowl, pressing on solids in strainer. (Discard solids.)
This could be served as-is (mojito-style) or strained.
Could be adapted for a pitcher version.
Serve with herbed ice cubes: Boil and cool a pot of water and pour into ice trays topped with a small mint leaf. Freeze overnight.