Here's one good thing about living in DC: this time of year. This time of year is usually a month or so long, but 2013 has decided to be obnoxious and stubborn about sending winter on its way, and so we find ourselves in late May -- it's almost June -- occasionally wearing scarves in office buildings that clearly didn't get the memo and insist on blasting the A/C to the max. But at last, the cold has passed. It's now that special time in DC where there's warm sun and cool breeze at the same time. Not one to let this fleeting time pass me by, I've been taking some long walks. A couple weeks ago,D and I strolled all the way from our corner of northwest all the way to Eastern Market for dinner. No better way to prep for a big night of pasta-eating and wine-drinking.
DC also has some affordable (coughnot) housing with outdoor seating, and we're lucky enough to have a deck. Now is the season to brush off that patio furniture and settle in with a drink outside. Fortunately, the long weekend provided ample opportunity to bask in the sun and pretend to be sophisticated with some shmancy cocktails.
But you know what DC does not have, like at all? Affordable alcohol. My friend Josh (he of Mutabbaq-making fame) alerted me to the fact that just a hop-skip north, in MoCo, my beloved Bulleit and Hendricks, and plenty of other stuff could be procured at a fraction of the price the robbers in DC charge. So this weekend, I put on my driving shoes and headed to liquor mecca. (Do you think prim and proper Montgomery County would like this nickname? Methinks not.) And there, I purchased what can only be called a full bar worth of product: two kinds of gin, a Haitian rum that Josh recommended, two vermouths, a vodka, and I probably could keep going but I will stop, to avoid total embarrassment. But people, it was like Christmas, it really was. By the time I'd left the store, I'd already decided which bottle to open and what to use it for. It was the right call, and this weekend, it can be yours.
For what do beautiful, breezy, sunny, weekend days call for if not a clean, crisp, alcoholic, adult Slurpee? That's essentially what this is. It comes by way of Heidi's wonderful book, Super Natural Every Day, but with some detours and adjustments, as Heidi apparently wasn't as desperate for a non-mocktail as I was.
Heidi's version is a cucumber cooler. Naturally, I added gin. I also upped the lime, subbed sugar for some of the honey (cheaper) and left it in the freezer because I never really liked it when my Slurpee melted. Some things never change.
Cucumber-Gin SlushiesAdapted from Heidi's recipe in Super Natural Every Day
Makes 1 big pitcher, which serves about 4 with a few dribbles left; might want to make a double batch
Notes: Heidi likes lemon cucumbers, which I've never encountered. She says 1 is about 10 oz. of cucumber, which is how much you need for this recipe. I used English cucumber, which she also blesses - but mine were the most monstrous of cucs; I needed only 2/3 of a cucumber for the recipe. If you can't weigh your ingredients, don't worry; this cocktail is supposed to relax you, not stress you out. Aim for a normal-sized English cucumber or 3-4 baby cucumbers.
10 oz. cucumber, partially peeled; see headnote 1/2 c. cold water 3 c. ice cubes (about 1½ trays) 1/3 c. mild honey or sugar Juice of 1 lime, more to taste 5 oz. gin (no need for the fancy stuff here) 1/4 tsp. fine-grain sea salt 5 leaves fresh mint, optional
Combine all the ingredients in a blender. Pulse until smooth, frosty, and free of ice chunks and honey globs. Pour into a pitcher, and store in the fridge or freezer for up to 1 hour before serving.