So... it's Lent, guys.
And (fun fact for those who didn't already know) Aaron is a priest. So I couldn't help it - I had to at least have a bit of a shout out to that niche demographic of you all who are currently doing without something or other for the next month and a half-ish. Since ye olde alcohols seem to be a common do-without during such times, Tipsy Tuesday is getting the axe until April 1 and will be replaced by its more Lenten (and less boisterous) sidekick, Sober Tuesday.
Now, that's not to say at all that we're getting boring over here in the Tuesday department. These mocktails are more than spritz and sugar. And really, most of these come with the option to spike it if you so desire, so it's up to you on how you want to serve them. But having several friends who don't enjoy the taste of alcohol, I've realized that in the venn diagram of fun and non-boozy drinks, often the point of crossover is sadly neglected. So let's have some fun amidst our Lenten seriousness and jazz up some non-boozy sippers!
This particular iteration was rather an accident. I was working on photographing some other tasty things (more on those in the weeks to come) and had some time to kill when I was done. And voila! Sober Tuesday popped into my head. So then the question was what I had on hand in my fridge/pantry that could create something interesting to drink. I had half a cucumber from a recent dinner, so I started with that. What else... basil syrup! That's still hanging out here. And... lemon juice? Definitely that. And a stray can of tonic water. Here we go! People. It's so good.
So good, in fact, that Aaron came home from the store yesterday with another cucumber, "just in case, I don't know, to have it on hand." (Another round of these materialized by the end of the evening.) I think I may have to get a juicer now. I'm hooked - but juicing a cucumber by hand maybe isn't my favorite pastime.
So, all my dry darlings, this series is for you.
a cucumber(patch) benediction
yield: 1 mocktail
1 tsp salt
¼ tsp chili powder
1½ oz fresh cucumber juice
2 TB fresh lemon juice
½ oz basil simple syrup
dash of ground cardamom
Optional: 1 oz gin or Mezcal
Roughly chop half a cucumber into approximately 1" chunks. Place these in a food processor fitted with the blade attachment and puree for at least 30 seconds or until it has become very liquid. Line a bowl or measuring pitcher with a cheesecloth or thin towel. Pour the pureed mixture into the towel and then squeeze to release as much juice as possible. Discard the cucumber pulp and retain the juice. (If you do not have a food processor, grate approximately half a cucumber. Using your hands, repeatedly squeeze small handfuls of the grated portion into a separate glass until it has been thoroughly juiced.) If you have a juicer, just use that instead.
Combine 1 tsp salt and ¼ tsp chili powder and mix well. Pour onto a plate. Rub the rim of a chilled rocks glass with lemon, then invert and rub in the salt and chili powder mixture until the rim is well coated. Fill with two square ice cubes and set aside.
In a shaker with ice, combine cucumber juice, lemon juice, basil simple syrup, and cardamom. (If making the alcoholic version, add the gin or Mezcal here too.) Shake for 15-20 seconds, then remove the shaker lid and pour through a fine strainer into the prepared cup. I do recommend removing the shaker lid here as the remaining cucumber pulp may block the holes.
Top with tonic water, garnish with slices of cucumber and lemon, and serve.