New Cocktail Recipe: Cucumber Basil Summer Sipper
Cool down with this fresh and juicy seasonal cocktail.
Ah, a cucumber cocktail. It really doesn’t get any more refreshing than this on a hot summer’s day.
I love this Cucumber-Basil Summer Sipper recipe by Brittany Conerly because the combination of peppery basil, bright lime, and juicy cucumber so naturally complements the botanical flavor of gin, making it really delicious and light. You probably shouldn’t gulp it, but you’ll want to — especially if it’s really hot outside!
It’s also surprisingly easy to make. First, you’ll want to measure out your ingredients and dice enough cucumber for a half of a cup. You may want to cut a few slices of lime and pinch off a separate pile of basil for garnish later. But first, let's talk simple syrup.
How to make simple syrup
The main building block of this summer sipper is a lovely cucumber-basil simple syrup. Simple syrup, sometimes called sugar syrup, is really no big deal to make, effort-wise: Combine water and white sugar in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Shortly after the sugar and water have reached a boil, stir it briefly just to ensure the sugar dissolves completely. Then, remove it from the heat.
You now have yourself a basic simple syrup, which is a staple in many a classic drink recipe. Whiskey or tequila sours, gimlets, mojitos, old fashioneds, Long Island Iced Tea, Margaritas and more — they all need this syrup. You'll also see simple syrups used as a sweetener for coffee and other beverages as well as poured over European-style cakes for extra sweetness and moisture.
Making simple syrup at home is so much cheaper than buying pre-made that you might consider doubling this recipe and setting half of it aside. After all, a plain syrup (i.e. one without any juice added) can last for up to three months refrigerated in an airtight container. You’ll notice that the recipe calls for equal parts sugar and water — this handy 1-to-1 ratio of sugar to water works for any size batch of sugar syrup you make going forward (and is what makes it so “simple”). You can also experiment with a "rich simple syrup" which is just an extra-sweet version made using 2 parts sugar to 1 part water, or make a dark simple syrup by substituting brown sugar for granulated sugar.
How to infuse simple syrup
But back to the cucumber-basil simple syrup... With your basic simple syrup warm off the stove, it's time to infuse it with some summer flavor: Toss three basil sprigs into the pan with your basic simple syrup and add a half-ounce of lime juice. Drop in three tablespoons of diced cucumbers, then let the mixture steep for 15 to 20 minutes as the syrup cools. After it’s cooled, pour it through a strainer to remove the solids. You've now made an infused simple syrup!
If you’ve doubled the recipe and have some plain simple syrup on hand — or if you just decide to make simple syrup again — there are plenty of other flavors you can infuse into it. This basil version is a sophisticated way to add dimension to all manner of summery drinks, but you don’t have to stop there. Mint leaves, thyme, or rosemary make for excellent herbal mixers; so do vanilla, citrus zest, fruits, or any spices you can think of that pair well with sweet flavors. Let creativity be your guide, and just repeat the infusion process that you used with the lime, cucumber, and basil with your new flavoring agents. Do note that the shelf life of a fruit-infused simple syrup is significantly shorter than a plain one — you'll want to keep these concoctions in the fridge and use within three weeks.
Make a cucumber cocktail
Once your infused syrup is ready, all you have to do is combine gin, syrup, fresh lime juice, the remaining cucumbers and a splash of club soda in a tall glass filled with ice. (If you want to be fancy like the picture, you can line your glass with a long strip of fresh cucumber — just use a standard vegetable peeler to cut off a decorative slice). Stir and garnish with the extra lime slices and basil leaves. Ta-da! You’ve got yourself a refreshing summer sipper. I’ll take two.
Want more simple syrup ideas? There are over 67,000 recipes on Yummly to help inspire you!