Remember a couple years ago when mojitos were all the rage? Every restaurant and bar was flaunting cool, minty drinks left and right and the lure of sugary rum and bracing lime was hard to resist. For some of us the craze never stopped.
The first time I ever had one I was hooked and they are still high on my list of go-to highballs. The problem with mojitos is that they go down too easily and make a perfectly balanced and refreshing mid-afternoon tipple, which, when the sun is up and the tide is high, is a deadly combination. Nothing, I repeat nothing, zaps your productivity like drinking in the sunshine! You’re probably thinking: just make it a virgin. Sadly, a virgin mojito is just not the drink that its boozy counterpoint is. Rum has such a depth of flavour that without it, you’re left with a sweet and sour minty drink that lacks backbone and frankly, in my humble opinion, isn’t worth it.
So what’s a girl to do? The garden needs weeding, the beach is calling, you have things to do and the heat of the season is slowing things down and gumming up your gears. While baking in the sun with a cocktail is a nice way to spend some time, you do, more than occasionally, need to keep your wits about you. In these instances it is delicious work to procure some ice, chop yourself some cucumber, snip some soft, fragrant herbs from your windowsill and smash it all up with some ginger and lime. What you get is a complex, sweet but not sugary, vegetal but not savoury, mash that is like a cool breeze in a glass. Top it with the fizz of a spicy ginger beer, plunk in a straw and get on with your day the Cucumber Ginger Cooler way. If you’ve already mown the lawn and done the dishes and you’re ready to hit the hammock or otherwise put your feet up, don’t feel stifled by the soberness of this drink – a shot or two of either gin or rum will do just nicely here. Enjoy your weekend, stay cool and thanks for reading!
Cucumber Ginger Cooler
This makes 2. Just double (or double again) for a whole pitcher of refreshment.
4″ piece of cucumber, chopped
Juice of 2 limes
a handful of soft herbs such as mint, lemon balm or basil
a 2″ piece of ginger, sliced
2 oz. your favourite gin (optional)
ginger beer/ginger ale
Prepare 2 tumblers with ice and sliced lime.
Juice the limes and set the juice aside. Add the squeezed rinds to a cocktail shaker with the cucumber, herbs and ginger. Muddle well. Add ice, pour over lime juice and gin. Shake vigorously until the outside of the shaker is very cold.
Pour into prepared glasses. Top with ginger beer/ale. Garnish with more of the herbs. Add a straw.