Ah, happy hour. My favorite time of the day.
There is something so perfect about a 5:00 PM cocktail. It’s so relaxing, so freeing, so fun. Whether its a going out with co-workers to a noisy bar or a drink with a friend on your back porch, I absolutely love Happy Hour.
For the past few months, I have been using weekend Happy Hours as opportunities to experiment with my own cocktail creations. Up until about 6 month ago, I considered myself primarily a beer and wine girl. I would treat myself to the occasional cocktail out at a restaurant or bar, but I pretty much only drank beer and wine at home.
Last fall, however, on one of these rare occasions, I was indulging in my absolute favorite cocktail, the Elderflower Sour at The Crunkleton. Even if you have absolutely NO other reason to be in Chapel Hill, you should travel here solely to try this drink. It’s everything. Refreshing, tart, sweet. It leaves you feeling thirsty after every sip, which sounds strange but in the context of this cocktail experience its perfect. I’ll stop gushing now…but seriously, come try this drink.
Anyway, while caught up in the wonderfulness of my Elderflower Sour on this particular evening, I asked myself why I had never tried to recreate this delicious drink. I had absolutely zero experience with bartending, but figured my cooking skills would give me a good foundation as I attempted to learn the craft of mixology.
Before attempting to recreate the Elderflower Sour, I knew I needed to start at square one and master more basic gin drinks. Consequently, pretty much all of my cocktail experimentation up to this point has been with gin-based cocktails, which is good because 1) I love gin 2) Nick love gin 3) my family loves gin 4) I have a giant handle of gin.
Though I love to drink gin all year round, I think its especially delicious in summer cocktails. The refreshing, piney taste of the gin perfectly complements so many different fruit flavors: tangy citrus fruit, tart kiwi and sweet strawberries, juicy just to name a few. Gin also pairs amazingly with a wide variety of herbs, such as mint, rosemary and basil.
I was inspired to make this particular gin cocktail while flipping through How Sweet Eats’ cookbook Seriously Delish. The basic recipes are the same, but I added mint and lemon-lime soda. Pureed kiwi gives this cocktail an amazing texture and flavor which is enhanced by bright and refreshing mint, cucumber and lime. I experience contesting emotions with each sip: joy, because it’s so delicious; and sorrow, as I am that much closer to an empty glass.
- 2 kiwi, pureed
- 1-2 Tbsp. fresh mint leaves, chopped
- 2 ounces fresh lime juice
- 4 ounces gin
- 4 ounces lemon-lime club soda
- Cucumber slices
- In a food processor or blender, puree the kiwi until smooth. Add in the chopped mint and puree another few seconds.
- In a cocktail shaker, mix together the lime juice, kiwi puree and gin. Shake for 30 seconds.
- Pour mixture over ice and top with club soda.
- Garnish with lime wedge and cucumber slices.