New York City has been hot this summer. I don’t just mean “oh I went for a run and now I’m all fit and sweaty” hot. I mean “I stepped outside for two seconds to go buy a donut and I am now melting into little puddles on the sidewalk so please watch where you are walking” hot. Needless to say, it’s been rough. I’m constantly searching for ways to beat the heat, usually by fanning myself with whatever paper product is within reach.
Earlier today, I was lounging in my apartment in a pool of sweat when I realized what would make the summer heat a little more bearable: good, old-fashioned, freshly-squeezed lemonade. Inspired by Smitten Kitchen’s Cucumber Lemonade recipe, I headed to the market for the aforementioned cucumber and lemons.
I returned home with the goods, opened the freezer to grab some ice, and happened to notice a lonely little bottle of vodka on the shelf. THIS MUST BE FATE, I thought. The Jimmy Buffet in me came to life; I knew that it was cocktail hour, 5 o’clock or not.
I decided to make the whole thing a little more frisky and fresh by adding cilantro to the mix. If you are not one of those unfortunate people who are genetically predispositioned to hate cilantro, I recommend you do the same (but choose your cilantro wisely).
Because of my lack of kitchen equipment, I had to juice the lemons by hand (I know, I’m so EARTHY). It was worth it. My sweat glands may be working overtime, but my tastebuds are relaxing with a zesty cocktail.
cucumber-cilantro lemonade cocktails
Makes 6 drinks
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 English hothouse cucumber
- 4 Tbsp. chopped cilantro, plus more for garnish
- Juice of 6 lemons
- Vodka or gin (optional, but not really)
Make a simple syrup by combining the sugar and 1/2 cup of water in a saucepan and bringing to a boil until the sugar is dissolved. Let cool.
Meanwhile, thinly slice the cucumber into coins. Reserve a few coins for garnish and put the rest into a blender with the cilantro and ¼ cup of water. Blend until the mixture reaches a liquid consistency.
In a pitcher, combine the simple syrup, cucumber-cilantro blend, and lemon juice with 3 cups of water. Stir until well combined. Pour into frosted, salt-and-sugar-rimmed glasses, adding alcohol if you’re tryna get down, and garnish with the cucumber slices and cilantro sprigs. Serve and sip!