Tuesday, April 17, 2012

New drink recipe!

It is a momentous occasion this evening.  For the first time in about two weeks, I not only managed to wrap up my day on campus at lunchtime, but I also had time to unwind at home, cook myself a proper dinner, and fix myself a drink more complex than uncapping a beer or pouring a double whiskey. 

In fact, the drink I'm having is, as it would appear, my own creation.  Here's how the invention occurred, as well as I can remember: I was having drinks at my favorite bar with some colleagues, one of whom shares my general distaste for gin.  I observed to hir that, at this particular bar and no other that I have patronized, there are gin-based cocktails so tasty and balanced in flavors that I can actually enjoy them.  Zi didn't quite believe me, although hir significant other likes gin and got aboard pretty easily.  After some discussion of the matter, and some more alcohol consumed, I...well, my memory gets hazy at this point, but I think that we argued about until it came to our minds to look up gin-based cocktails that zi might be able to tolerate. 

And here is where we may always face a mystery, for at that point (approximately), I somehow latched on to the basis for a cocktail that zi might enjoy, and then I started doctoring the recipe to make it more interesting.  Please note that none of us was mixing anything: we were just patrons at the bar, and I was fiddling with drink recipes on my iPhone.  (Side note: for the serious cocktails fans out there – hi, Dr. Becca!! – the Mixologist app is the bomb.)  Days later, my colleague and I could not determine precisely how this recipe was generated: I thought that zi had suggested particular ingredients, but it turns out that zi has an aversion to some of them even stronger than hir dislike of gin, so that's not possible.  Plus, zi swears that zi didn't suggest the name to me.  The name of the drink that I found in my iPhone app the next day doesn't seem to apply to any drink known to the world of online cocktail enthusiasts in the form in which I recorded it.  There is another gin-based drink of the same name, but the mixers are way different; you couldn't confuse these two for the same drink.  My best guess is that, in my booze-mellowed state, I thought, "That's a cool name for a drink," and I promptly applied it to mine.  I will not mention that name here, because, frankly, it makes no damn sense for my drink.  I'll take reasonable suggestions for a proper name.

Once I had this recipe down, I realized that I didn't want to buy all the ingredients, since I usually don't like gin and didn't want to be stuck with a bottle I wouldn't drink.  I went to that same bar on a slow night and asked a bartender to make the drink for me, showing him the recipe.  He added the black pepper garnish, as well as upgrading the dash of lime juice to actual quarters of lime for muddling, both of which I thought were nice touches.  Once I tasted it, I knew the drink worked as an aesthetic whole, and I bought myself a pint of Tanqueray so I could practice.

Anyway, here (at last!) is the recipe:

1 hefty jigger of good London dry gin (I used Tanqueray, but whatever you like should do fine)
Plenty of sprigs of fresh cilantro
3 to 4 thin slices of fresh cucumber
1 T. simple syrup
Half of a lime, cut into quarters
Freshly ground black pepper

Muddle the cilantro, cucumber, and two of the lime pieces in a rocks glass.  Add the simple syrup.  If you have finely crushed ice, add it on top of the muddled ingredients; if all you've got is the regular big cubes of ice that the fridge makes, put them in a shaker or, if you can fly without a net, a separate glass.  (A wine glass worked well for me.)  Pour the gin over the ice — if the ice is in a separate vessel, then you must swirl, stir, or shake the gin and ice for a bit to get the gin good and cold, and then strain the gin into the muddle.  Stir gently.  If you like a big hit of citrus with your gin, squeeze the juice of the remaining lime pieces into the drink; otherwise, keep them handy for the next round.  Grind a little pepper (not too much!) on top as garnish, and serve. 

NB: If you have small rocks glasses, you may be tempted to ease up on all the greenery.  DON'T DO THIS.  I don't enjoy gin anyway without a lot of mixing flavors, and I find that it responds especially well to high doses of vegetation — the combination suits the botanicals in the gin. 

I haven't tried the pairing yet, but I strongly suspect that this is the ultimate drink accompaniment to a good bánh mì, given the cilantro, cucumber, and lime.  If I ever come within striking distance of a Vietnamese neighborhood again, I'll try it out and let you know my findings.


  1. How convenient that I have all of this in my fridge leftover from making spring rolls!

  2. This sounds amazing. I'm no good at inventing my own drink recipe (though I'll happily consume others'!).

    Have you tried a Negroni? I do like gin, so I'm not the best judge of this--but its my perception that you can't really taste the gin in it. On the other hand, you have to like Campari, and many people don't.

    1. Not gonna happen for me. I hate Campari, and can't see myself enjoying a Negroni.

      And yes, my drink IS amazing! Do any good names for it occur to you?

  3. You should just make your own: http://battleofthebanhmi.com/

    There are some decent Vietnamese places in your nearby Large Regional City. Or, if you're willing to drive a couple hours to the state to your immediate east, the biggest city there has some good banh mi places.