Gin Cucumber Basil Smash

Gin Cucumber Basil Smash

The Hendrick’s Gin Cucumber Basil Smash

Summer has announced itself very loudly around these parts. While I’m not into the heat, I am into summer cocktails. My cucumber plant is already producing. Time for a cucumber cocktail!

Gin Cucumber Basil Smash
Created by Hendrick’s National Brand Ambassador, Jim Ryan

1 1/2 ounces gin
3/4 ounce fresh lemon juice
3/4 ounce simple syrup
One small bunch of basil (3-5 leaves)
3-5 cucumber wheels

In a mixing glass, muddle basil, cucumber and simple syrup. Add gin, lemon juice and ice. Shake well and fine strain into an iced double rocks glass. Garnish with a bunch of basil and a cucumber wheel.

Hendrick’s Gin sent me this delicious recipe. I don’t share brand recipes often … but when I do, it’s because I like them!

I wasn’t provided with any product or compensation for posting

Cuba Libre With Rhum Agricole (Rhum & Agri-Cola)

Cuba Libra Rhum AgricoleSometimes all you want is a simple cocktail — one that doesn’t involve a long list of ingredients and fancy techniques. But just like there are lots of ways to dress up a Gin & Tonic, there are also a variety of ways to have a Rum & Coke. The simplest adjustment is to add a little lime, which turns it into a Cuba Libre.

But to really have something that different without a lot of effort, try using rhum agricole in place of your go-to rum. This funky spirit is a cousin to rum, but there’s more difference than just adding an “h” to the name. Rhum agricole is distilled from sugar cane juice (instead of molasses). This gives it a fresh, vegetal quality that’s very different from rum. If you love Tiki drinks, then you need a bottle of rhum in your bar.

Using rhum in a Cuba Libre makes for a layered and complex drink that’s just as easy to make as a Rum & Coke. I used Neisson rhum agricole, which is the easiest to find. But there are a lot of great rhums out there, including a California version from St. George Spirits. You can use good old American Coke, Mexican Coke or your favorite small-batch, artisanal fancy-face cola.

Cuba Libre (Rhum & Agri-Cola)

2 ounces rhum agricole

Pour the rhum into a tall glass with crushed ice. Top off with cola and a squeeze of lime. Garnish with a lime wedge or two. (I used a small glass and cube ice to make a smaller version for this photo. Either way, adjust cola amount to taste.)

Plum Margarita


Armed with a bagful of plums fresh off the tree and a need for a frozen cocktail, Savvy Housekeeping and I blended up some refreshing plum Margaritas … and you should, too! This recipe makes one, but double (or triple) up to make more! You will want more.

Plum Margarita

Three plums (halved, pitted and frozen)
2 ounces silver tequila
1 ounce triple sec
1/4 ounce lemon juice
1/4 ounce simple syrup

Blend all ingredients in a blender until smooth.

Photo by Savvy Housekeeping

DIY Orange Soda

diyorangesodaOrange Crush, Sunkist and other kinds of orange soda are great, even if they taste more like orange the color than like orange the fruit. DIY orange soda has the same mix of sweet and tart as the store-bought stuff, only with the flavor of real oranges.

The citric acid is key to getting that sharp flavor associated with the real-deal orange soda, but it also extends shelf life a little. Leave it out if you like, but then this won’t be as tart and will taste more like OJ than Orange Crush and its kin.

DIY Orange Soda

Zest of 2 navel oranges
1/2 cup fresh orange juice (about 1 orange)
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1/4 teaspoon citric acid

Zest the oranges. Be sure to avoid including any of the white pith. Juice one orange and strain out the pulp. Combine the zest, juice, sugar, water and citric acid in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes, then let it cool. Refrigerate the cooled syrup and then mix one part syrup with three parts seltzer for each serving.

Adjust the amount of seltzer to taste. I suggest mixing on a glass-by-glass basis and storing the syrup separately, unmixed.

The recipe I created and posted here was first published on Serious Eats in my DIY vs. Buy column