The other night after the gym I swung by Whole Foods to pick up some chicken which I planned to cook for dinner the following night. As I tend to do whenever I'm at Whole Foods, after I got what I needed, I just sort of meandered aimlessly around the store, up and down the aisles looking and browsing. It's seriously my favorite thing to do. I try not to fall prey to hunger induced impulse buying, but people, I'm not made of stone. $8.00 for a plastic tub of granola? I clearly need one of those. A jumbo can of San Marzano tomatoes? That's always good to have in the pantry. New Mexico chili powder? Well I already have ancho, chipotle and regular chili powder, I might as well have New Mexico. My basket filled with various goods I didn't intend on buying but obviously NEEDED, I circled past a shelf filled with cookbooks, a temptation I almost always succumb to. One book in particular caught my eye - the Food and Wine Guide to Cocktails 2008. After briefly flipping through it, I tossed it into my basket. You see, I am currently in the midst of a love affair with Food and Wine magazine and my affection for cocktails is well known.
It seems to me that food mags like Gourmet or Bon Appetite get all the hoo ha while Food and Wine somehow feels a little second tier. And it shouldn't be that way. As much as I like it, I find Gourmet to be a bit unrealistic. It's more of an aspirational food magazine. Kind of like the cooking equivalent of Vogue or Architectural Digest. Very pretty to look at, full of ideas that you'd like to emulate but with a slick veneer of glossiness that leaves the magazine's content ultimately sort of lifeless. Bon Appetite on the other hand, I think strives to be accessible, which while well meaning, comes off a little pandering and slightly stale. I don't really like recipes that call for jars of salsa or pre-made pie crusts or whatever. It's sort of encroaching on Aunt Sandy's territory. A little soccer mom-ish. And then we have Food and Wine which, I find much more of a connection with. It feels younger and hip, forward thinking, and often features recipes by all sorts of top and upcoming chefs.
Despite the fact that the focus of the magazine is, as the title succinctly puts it, food and wine, it also explores the glamorous world of mixology. This guide to cocktails (that I just had to have) is part of a series that they have been publishing for several years now and features drinks recipes contributed by restaurants and bars all over the country. This drink, in particular, comes from a restaurant in Philadelphia called Tequila's. Next time I'm in Philly, I'm going to have to drop by and order one, but until then I can make them myself.
leaves from a 2 inch long sprig of fresh rosemary, plus a 4 inch long sprig for garnish
6 thin slices of unpeeled English cucumber, plus 3 more slices for garnish
2 tablespoons simple syrup
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
1/2 cup silver tequila
2 tablespoons (or so) chilled tonic water
In a cocktail shaker, muddle the rosemary and 6 cucumber slices with the simple syrup and lime juice. Add the tequila, a handful of ice, and shake well.
Strain into a glass filled with ice. Stir in the tonic water and garnish with the remaining 3 slices of cucumber and sprig of rosemary.
As you know, I love herbs in cocktails. Even though I've already posted a cocktail featuring rosemary, this one has a very different feel. Besides the fact that it's made with tequila, the flavor is less sweet than the cocktail with vodka, lemon and rosemary. Rather it's more tart, but with a really interesting juxtaposition of woodsy and clean, thanks to the rosemary and cucumber. It's quite subtle although the fragrance of the rosemary sprig garnish brings the pungent notes to the foreground. If you are making these for a group, it might be worth while to just infuse the simple syrup with rosemary, and then peel and pure half a cucumber and just use a tablespoon or so of the pulp, rather than having to muddle everything.
The ingredients are such that it wouldn't seen inappropriate to serve this cocktail before meals that feature either, Mexican or Mediterranean flavors or, say roasted or grilled chicken or salmon. Cucumber always makes me think of salmon. I can totally picture myself drinking one of these while watching over a slab of salmon being cooked on a cedar plank. How good does that sound? I might need to make that happen.
Makes 1 drink