When I’m out gallivanting around town and sampling cocktails from the wildly talented drink mixers who run Twin Cities bars, my tastes are complicated. I’ve gotten to the point where I adore a drink that challenges expectations. If there’s something goofy on the menu (pickled watermelon for garnish or obscure spirits I don’t know how to pronounce), that’s my first order. But at home, I’m helplessly boring. Honestly, most days I don’t even mix my own drink. It’s a glass of wine or a bit of bourbon and ginger ale poured by my ever-suffering husband. (He was a bartender in a former life, so it is possible that my ordering drinks from the other side of the room reminds him of our dating days. Honey, remember when I’d slur my drink order through the haze of a dive bar smoke screen? Who says romance is dead?)
Recently, my in-house game was upped a bit by my friend Erik Eastman. He’s half of the Easy & Oskey company and is available for hire with cocktail consultation. He insists that a simple gimlet is the perfect summer cocktail for making at home. And, with a couple of minor modifications, it’s possible to have a craft-cocktail experience at home with very little effort. There’s a reason they call him Easy (and me “lazy.” Even I can do this one at home).
Easy’s Vodka Gimlet:
2 oz. Prairie Organic Cucumber Vodka
1 oz. fresh lime juice*
3/4 oz. simple syrup**
1/4 tsp. Easy & Oskey Cherry Vanilla bitters
Small handful fresh mint leaves & stems
Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with clean ice. Shake 15 seconds, and strain into a cocktail glass through a fine mesh strainer. Garnish with a small mint leaf.
Additions to make the drink extra-special:
*Whisk in 1 tsp of powdered egg whites into 6 oz. lime juice. This will yield a beautiful froth and texture to the drink, and allow you to make a few gimlets for friends. Powdered egg whites are easily sourced online or at co-ops.
**Steep your simple syrup off the heat for two hours with 1/4 c. cracked pink peppercorns and a large handful of fresh mint. Strain solids after two hours and keep syrup covered in refrigerator for up to two weeks.