Jalapeño-Cucumber Gimlet

Paraphrasing my ole’ buddy Cole Porter, It’s Too Damn HOT!

Jalapeño-Cucumber Gimlet

Jalapeño-Cucumber Gimlet

I was chatting with a gal in the produce section of Trader Joe’s the other day, and we were talking about Persian (cocktail) cucumbers – namely about how delicious they are and how nice it is not to have to peel them.  But, it’s also widely know that those temperamental bastards won’t last more than a couple of days in your fridge before they get moldy spots and you’re throwing them into the compost bin.

Sure, they are delightful in salads (especially with a little feta and some melon or tomatoes this time of year).  If you think they are getting borderline funky, you can slow down the decay trajectory by making a quick refrigerator pickle:  slice or sliver your cukes, then add some chopped scallions and about 2 teaspoons vinegar—I like rice wine vinegar or white balsamic—per cucumber ratio; toss to combine and refrigerate.  Add a bit of red or black pepper before serving and a pinch of sea salt.

I also like pulling out a couple to make cocktails, a few of which I’ve talked about here before.

You’ve probably seen the studies quoted that hot foods actually make you feel cooler and have natural antimicrobial qualities.  Hence, spicy food preferences in cultures living in warmer climates.  Right now, Utah’s about as hot as I can take it—and this from a gal who lived in muggy Memphis and the ‘dry’ heat of Arizona for years.  I made this spicy-cool version of a gimlet to at least give me a modicum of gracious respite last night.  It’s cool and bracing at the same time.  I like using vodka instead of gin for this gimlet recipe; it makes the jalapeño taste cleaner and brighter in contrast.  It’s fabulous with half of the martini glass rim coated in a fragrant smoked sea salt.

Jalapeño-Cucumber Gimlet

1 Persian (small cocktail) cucumber, sliced

½ jalapeño, seeded

2 oz. vodka

1 Tbs. agave nectar

Juice of 1 lime

Smoked sea salt

 

Throw the cucumber and jalapeño in a cocktail shaker and muddle the bejesus out of them with a pestle or wooden spoon.   Meanwhile, rub ½ of the rim of a martini glass with half of a cut lime, then dip in smoked sea salt (I used a Durango smoked salt for this, but it’s also great with a black Salish smoked salt).  Add the vodka, agave, and lime juice to the shaker with a few cubes of ice.  Shake like crazy.  Add a few cubes of fresh ice to your pretty cocktail glass, then strain your cocktail over the rocks.  Garnish with cucumber and jalapeño.

For the rest of September, I’ll be featuring Bourbon cocktails and recipes for National Bourbon Heritage Month!  Email, Facebook (“A Bourbon Gal”), or Instagram (abourbongal) me your requests for the next bourbon-based H.O.A.G.Y. (Help Out a Gal/Guy, Yeah?)  You can also find abourbongal on Twitter, but I suck at it.  #sorrykinda

Superlative Slope-side Bloody Mary*:

Bloody Mary

Bloody Mary

Spring brings along with it the dubious refined culture of the mid-day cocktail.  Think mint juleps, Planter’s punch, mojitos, and of course the hangover brunch standards:  Mimosas and Bloody Marys.  In my Memphis-based undergraduate days, we trained during much of the year to get ready for  studied diligently, then barely survived enjoyed a series of late semester parties, culminating in a music festival called “Rites of Spring.”  Awfully pagan for a church affiliated private liberal arts school, hmmm?  Good times.

I’ve moderated my own daytime drinking propensity in the decades years since in response to semi-responsible adulthood: graduate school, keeping a job, parenthood, PTA meetings, those goddamn pesky “empty” alcohol calories that every fascist nutritional resource tells you will haunt you and your belly fat thighs ass liver and muffin top mid-section forever.  And they do, my friends, they do.

But there are certain events in one’s life that call out for the return of day drinking an occasional mid-afternoon cocktail in its inherent subversive naughty splendor:  Super Bowl Sunday.  Mardi Gras.  The Kentucky Derby.   Volunteering at your kids’ school for “Pioneer Week” field trips.  Independence Day.

And, here in my adopted mountain home:  Spring Skiing.

Thanks to Brighton Ski Team for this great photo of the racers!

Thanks to Brighton Ski Team for this great photo of the racers!

Case in point.  Our family unit ventured to Grand Targhee, WY last weekend for an extended ‘Spring Fling’ two-day ski race event in which our older son, Tim Collins, competed.  We met up with about 10 other families from our home mountain and awesome guests.  We arrived at the mountain at 8:30 am each day to get our kids outfitted with their race speed suits, their racing bibs, their surly attitudes, and their appropriately-waxed skis.  Then the parents took turns trudging up the slope to set up a ‘base camp’ at the race finish—a good 200 yards straight uphill.  My man The Macallan valiantly delivered tent poles, coolers, and backpacks.  I mercilessly nagged supervised, and tried to finish my coffee before it cooled.

Waiting at the tent each morning after a couple of runs by noon, were the combined efforts of a few but mighty genius minds:  Gallons (yes, gallons!!) a pitcher of super-peppery homemade Bloody Mary mix,  several quarts of hooch hidden in duffle bags a bottle of Five Wives Vodka (Utah’s own artisan spirit), and some jalapeño-stuffed green olives for garnish.   Served in red Solo cups  non-breakable slope-side beverage containers, this was, my friends, the nectar of the ski gods.  Ullr and Loki were undoubtedly looking after us in their own pagan fashion:  Rites of Spring, now all grown up.  Kinda.

Slope-side Bloody Mary (makes 1, multiply as needed for your crowd) 

When I’m at home, I add a bacon-salt rim to the glass, just ‘cause you can and it’s delicious (Hello?  Bacon + salt !?).  Also great with Old Bay Seasoning.

In a cocktail shaker with 3-4 cubes ice add:

2 oz. vodka

One 5.5 oz. can original V8 juice

½  tsp. fresh lemon juice

¼ tsp. prepared horseradish

2 dashes Worcestershire sauce

2 dashes hot sauce (I like Crystal)

1 tsp. Okra pickle juice or green olive juice

A couple of generous cranks of fresh-ground coarse black peppercorns

A generous shake of bacon salt or Old Bay Seasoning

Shake until combined.  Pour the whole shaker into a heavy glass or red Solo cup.  Garnish with pickled okra and/or several skewered green olives.

Until next ski season, SKOL and Slainté, my friends! 

*Please imbibe responsibly, and for cripes sake watch your sodium levels.  We’re not getting any younger, you know.  Geez.