Sarah Wheaton is a great cook who cut her teeth as a political blogger for the NYTimes right out of college covering the election in D.C. Now she’s back at the mothership in NYC and has made reading the times into an addictive game of Spot Sarah’s Byline. Sarah’s cocktail is light and fizzy, matching gin’s herbal and citrus notes with ginger, grapefruit and cucumber. I recommend again Hendricks to marry with the cucumbers, but I’d love to try it with a range of gins to see which notes get picked up by the other ingredients.
-2 oz. cucumber infused hendricks (or other gin)
-0.5 oz. grapefruit juice
-1.5 oz. ginger beer
Stir the infused gin with ice and the grapefruit juice until cold. Pour out into your chosen glass, and top with ginger beer.
On our first night of experimentation, we got close. We tried fresh ginger, cucumber puree, cucumber juice, chilling, shaking – it wasn’t working. Once I thought I had it, and I gave Orlando a taste. “Congratulations, you’ve invented gin and juice,” he said. Obviously I had to do better. As I was heading home I realized the fresh ginger was the problem.
A lot of food people have a blindspot. We always prefer to use fresh ingredients in every situation. But fresh ginger wasn’t infusing the ginger kick I wanted into the cocktail. A good, fiery ginger beer was the answer – the flavor I wanted already in liquid form. I used Reed’s, which is a little pricier than a normal soda, but fairly easy to find.
The resulting cocktail, Wheaton’s Elixir, is at first clean, fizzy, and a little sweet. Then you taste the heat of the ginger, the hint of bitter acidic grapefruit, the botanical bite of the gin, and finally the vegetable support of the cucumber. You can sip it absentmindedly at one of Sarah’s fantastic parties, or really focus on each flavor if you’ve been cornered by someone tedious at someone else’s less fantastic party. It’s really a versatile drink. Enjoy.