How to Turn Your CSA Haul Into a Gimlet Cocktail
Jessica Soffer recreates a memorable cocktail from years past with the help of her local farmers
Years ago, I had one of those stupidly delicious cocktails that makes you want to drink forever, abandon all responsibilities and never ever sober up. It was at Cookshop in New York City and it made me wonder if it wouldn’t be better for a person to be comprised of that precise, delicate balance of tartness and sweetness and freshness than of simple blood and water. As I remember it, the drink involved gin, cucumber, lime, and cassis. And it was beyond.
A week later, when I went back to order another one (or nine), the bartender looked at me like I was nuts. Which cocktail? Never heard of it. He had to be kidding, I thought. This must be some kind of joke. The cocktail, I wanted to shout. The best one! But I didn't shout. I talked to a waiter, a hostess, a regular—and same result. No one could remember the thing. Cucumber and gin? Maybe lime? It was a mystery. And I was crushed.
Years have gone by and I’ve come to think of that mystery cocktail like that genius idea that dawns on and deserts you. You know it happened; it was amazing. And yet, what do you have to show for it? Was it all a mirage or projection or neurological lapse, I wonder. It’s hard to know.
So when my CSA box was all cucumber this past month, and I'd done so much pickling that my fingerprints were starting to vinegar-off, I decided to try to get that memory back. I tried a lot. I used cucumber water then cucumber vodka. I settled on gin. I used lemons but returned to limes. I tried Chambord and then decided against it. I switched things up with thyme and basil simple syrups but found that a whole lot of fresh mint did the trick best. And my garden thanked me. I went through a lot of blackberries. I got cankersores in my mouth from all the acid. I got drunk.
And I got really close to the original cocktail, I think—but at this point, my memory and my faith in it have faded. The good news: who cares. The Garden Kitchen Sink Gimlet, the name of my new drink, is a winner in its own right and has made me forget what I thought I remembered and move on. It's time.