Thirsty Thursday: Cucumber Basil Vodka Deliciousness
MUSIC PAIRING: Outkast, Aquemini
There’s something very important I need to tell you. I’m not who you think I am. I’m a rap artist. Better than that? So is Amanda, one of my best friends.
Amanda and I met in 2002. I was a training server at Houston’s, now Hillstone, back then and she was assigned to me for training for five days. Like any 22 year old, I had no patience for anything. I was so used to training common sense starved individuals that I didn’t give much thought to there being someone out there who could actually do two things at once. The first thing I said to Amanda when I met her was Take my advice dude, don’t trust a soul in this restaurant and do not hang out with anyone. Oh, I’m Valerie. By the end of the night, I’d already asked if she wanted to get beers after work.
From that night on, Amanda and I were inseparable. For the next four years, we spent literally every Friday night together, aptly naming it Ritual Friday, and I simply cannot explain the shenanigans we got into. Ritual was a night without limits. I’ll just say we drank. A lot. When she moved back to Baltimore to pursue her nursing degree in 2006, I was devastated. Completely.
Fast forward all these years and you’ll find Amanda and I still inseparable. She may live in Baltimore and I in NYC, but the miles in between are no match for us. When I went to visit her earlier this summer, we’d already planned out Ritual like the old days. It may have included her two kids and husband but lucky for them, we’re ‘the more, the merrier’ types.
It was hotter than balls the weekend I visited so I was craving something cold and refreshing
that I could drink a lot of. Whenever I’m sweating to death, I think of cucumbers. To eat and to drink. So, I whipped us up one of my signature cocktails that’s the perfect remedy for roasting from the inside out. Be warned though, these go down pretty dang easy. When we realized just how easy, we decided to be smart and throw a cheese plate together lest we drink ourselves into oblivion. See? We have learned a thing or two after all in our old age.
Why Outkast? I already told you that Amanda and I are rap artists, I just didn’t mention that it’s in our own world. All those years of Ritual Friday practice deepened our love for Outkast immeasurably. We listened to them all the time. Aquemini particularly. I still can’t drive down 75 in Atlanta without cracking a smile. I just think of us blaring those boys with windows down on the way to go dancing. Best days of my life, yo.
Skillet, from ‘old school players to new school fools, ‘Kast keep it jumpin like kangaroos’. I miss you, dude. Fo’eva my #1 stunna.
- 2 cucumbers, one peeled and seeded for the simple syrup and the other sliced for garnish
- Water, as needed
- 1 bunch fresh basil
- 1 cup sugar
- Vodka (I used and prefer Tito's)
- Club soda
- Process seeded cucumber in a mini food processor or blender until completely broken down. Depending on the water content of your cucumber, it may be more paste-like than fluid. If that's the case, add water a little bit at a time until the cucumber thins out. I prefer a little texture in mine so my cucumber "pulp" was on the thicker side.
- Once you've got your cucumber "water", measure out one cup and combine with the cup of sugar in a small saucepan. Add a large handful of fresh basil and bring to a light simmer until all the sugar is dissolved. Remove from the heat and let the basil steep in the cucumber syrup until cooled. Strain and discard the basil.
- Syrup will keep well in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.
- You'll see me write this a lot when I create my own cocktails...
- Constructing them is completely subjective. I highly dislike sweet drinks so the amount of simple syrup I use is probably a lot less than the average person. That said, all you need to do is start with the ice, mix up however much vodka and syrup you prefer and top it off with club soda.
- Make sure you garnish your drink with the cucumber and more fresh basil because it's just pretty that way. Also, you get to eat a boozy cucumber when you're done with your drink. Win!