I have a bad case of Book Brain. Oh, people, is it ever bad. It doesn’t matter what I appear to be doing – eating, sleeping, bathing, talking, writing this sentence – because I am not really doing it. I am thinking about how to revise my manuscript. I am useless. Also, I am boring. Last week, Brandon and I had an argument over vanilla extract. When you argue with your husband over baking ingredients, you are a very boring person. This week, if we argue, I hope it’s over something more exciting, like bank robbery, or politics, or lace underwear, or who gets the last drop of gin from the cocktail shaker.

On Saturday, in an effort to combat Book Brain and feel less boring, I decided that we should have a dinner party. So I called our friends John and Olaiya, who kindly acquiesced, and we threw together a menu. John and Olaiya brought olives and beer, and Brandon and I made this old salad, which never really gets old, and this old pasta, which also never gets old, and I baked the chocolate bundt cake from Sunday Suppers at Lucques, which got old very quickly, because it wasn’t that great. But the best part, aside from distracting myself for a few hours with some of my favorite people, was the aforementioned cocktail shaker and the cocktail it contained.

I am not ordinarily much of a mixed-drinks person. I am mainly a wine, beer, and occasional gin-and-tonic kind of girl. But I have found my Summer Drink of 2008, and it is called a Gordon’s Cup. It starts with lime and cucumber, which are muddled together into a pale green pulpy mess that smells like Mexico and the beach and a hammock in the shade, and then you add gin, a smidge of simple syrup, and some ice, and you shake the whole thing until it’s nice and cold. And then, blessed be, you get to drink it. I found the recipe a couple of months ago, in the April issue of Bon Appétit, but until this past weekend, the weather didn’t feel quite warm enough to warrant bringing the gin out of the cabinet. However, now that it has come out, I don’t think it is ever going back in, because I need more Gordon’s Cups. But only after my revisions are done. Because I am boring.

Gordon’s Cup
Adapted from Bon Appétit, April 2008

We used Tanqueray gin for this drink – it’s our usual brand – but Plymouth would also be very nice. We served it in wide-mouth champagne glasses, but you could also use a rocks glass, which is what the original recipe recommends. Oh, and before you start, note that the quantities listed below make only one serving. You can scale them up easily, though.

To make the simple syrup called for below, combine 1 cup sugar and 1 cup water in a small saucepan, and stir over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Raise the heat, and boil for 1 minute. Cool the syrup to room temperature; then store it in the fridge indefinitely. (Or, if you cannot be bothered to make simple syrup, you can use superfine sugar to taste.)

2/3 of a small lime, cut into 6 wedges
2 (½-inch-thick) rounds of peeled cucumber
¼ cup gin
1 to 1 ½ Tbsp. simple syrup
Pinch of sea salt

Place the lime and the cucumber in a cocktail shaker, and mash them with a muddler or wooden spoon until the lime is juiced and the cucumber is pulpy. Add the gin, 1 Tbsp. simple syrup, and 1 cup ice. Cover, and shake vigorously three times. (At this point, I recommend tasting a little bit: you might want a splash more gin, or a bit more simple syrup.) Pour the contents of the shaker into a glass – with or without some ice, as you see fit. Sprinkle with salt.

Note: To garnish this, you could use a wedge of lime or a thin sliver of cucumber. Brandon, however, wants to try a sprig of mint or cilantro next time.

Yield: 1 serving