When life hands you lemons, make lemonade, or so the adage goes. The clever tippler knows to take that pragmatic advice one step further: Give those lemons a twist — be it a clever garnish, an unexpected flavor pairing or, even, a bright shot of alcohol. Try these summery drinks and life will seem a whole lot easier pretty quickly.
Fete de l’ete (Summer party)
Makes: 1 cocktail.
2 ounces lemon vodka
1 1/2 ounces basil syrup, see recipe
1 ounce lemon juice
1 ounce cucumber juice, see recipe
1 egg white
Garnishes: Thin slices cucumber and lemon
Basil syrup: Steep 1/4 pound fresh basil leaves in 1 cup hot water, 20 minutes; strain, reserving the water, discarding the leaves. Make a syrup by combining 1 cup basil water with 1 1/2 cups sugar in a small bowl. Stir until the sugar dissolves. Refrigerate, up to 2 weeks.
Cucumber juice: Puree 1 diced seedless cucumber with 1 cup ice water in a blender. Double strain the juice before using. Refrigerate, up to 3 days.
Combine all ingredients, except the garnishes, in a mixing glass; shake first without ice. Then add ice and shake. Strain into a cocktail glass; garnish with lemon and cucumber slices.
Note: The drink can be made with or without alcohol.
From Lynn M. House, chief mixologist at Blackbird restaurant in Chicago.
Adagio for summer
Makes: 12 servings.