Friday Evening Happy Hour: Vodka Cocktails

What can we say? Today is Friday and we’re oh so happy!  We want to share that happiness with you, so we’re bringing you two fabulous vodka cocktails to kick off your weekend.My cocktail loyalties lie with the bitter, the sour, and the fresh.  You will never see me ordering a saccharine daiquiri or anything that is made with a ‘mix’.  Sour drinks should not be made with sour mixes, they should be made with fresh squeezed citrus, and if there is going to be fruit or vegetation in my drink, it has to be the real thing!  That being said, I wanted to create a cocktail that is a perfect refresher for an end of Summer sip. I was inspired by a drink I had while on vacation in Milwaukee, and believe it or not it had nothing to do with beer.  So I present to you, the Cucumber Badger!  It’s a multi-step process, but then it’s as easy as pouring and saying aaaah.

Cucumber-Infused Vodka
Ingredients:

1 750-ml bottle of vodka; preferably Skyy, Absolut, or Smirnoff
1 English or, seedless cucumber
1 large glass vessel (I got this gigantic mason jar from Michaels for about $3.50)

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This couldn’t be easier! Peel the cucumber and slice it about 1/4-inch thick.  Toss it in the glass vessel, pour in the vodka, and let it sit! 3 days minimum, no more than a week.  Note, the cucumber will probably discolor, and the vodka won’t be perfectly clear when all is said and done, but that’s because it’s taking on that sweet, fresh flavor!
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You can definitely store the infused vodka in the original bottle, and maybe add an extra label so you remember it tastes like cucumbers now.  Or you could be annoyingly cutesy, like me, and pour it into an awesome French soda bottle with a hinged pop top.Basil-Infused Simple Syrup
Ingredients:
Fresh basil leaves, between 1/4 cup and 1.5 cups, depending on how strong you want it
1 cup of water
1 cup of sugarAgain, this could not be simpler.  Pour the water into a small saucepan, followed by the basil leaves and the sugar, crushing the basil leaves a bit in the pan.  Simply bring to a boil and let it stay there until the sugar has dissolved completely.  Then get it off the heat, remove the basil leaves, let it cool, and it’s ready to use!  Note: if you leave the mixture boiling longer than it needs to, the sugar will start to darken, and your mixture will discolor; not necessarily a problem, but you won’t have that crystal-clear syrup.  What you have leftover after you make drinks will store in the fridge.

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Now you are all ready to make your drink! And it will come together in about 30 seconds.Cucumber Badger
Makes 2 large cocktails or 4 small cocktailsIngredients:
4 oz cucumber-infused vodka (see above)
12 oz plain seltzer water
1 oz fresh squeezed lime juice (this might take 2 limes, so buy 2 just in case)
1 oz basil-infused simple syrup (see above)

Step 1:
Fill a cocktail shaker with ice.  Add the vodka, lime juice, and simple syrup.  Shake vigorously for about 30 seconds.  Seriously, shake it until it’s so cold you can barely hold it.  Very cold cocktails > slightly cold cocktails.

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Step 2:
Pour into 2 highball glasses (if you are making 2) and add 6 oz of the seltzer to each glass.  Stir briefly, top with a few ice cubes and a lime wedge or fresh cucumber slices if desired.
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This drink is completely delicious.  The cucumber flavor is mild, because cucumbers themselves are, but it’s a very present flavor in the cocktail, not to mention it’s addictively refreshing.  And with just a touch of acid, sweetness, and herbs, it hits all the notes a cocktail should.  Feel free to experiment with the syrup and vodka you have left over.  Here’s just a couple ideas for add-ins:~mashed strawberries
~candied ginger
~muddled mint leaves
~rosemary sprigsBottoms up!

~Lauren

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If your tastes are on the sweeter, fruity side, check out the recipe below using one of our favorite summer ingredients: Watermelon!

Watermelon Zip

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Ingredients (makes two hefty drinks)
2 cups cubed, frozen watermelon (seedless!)
1/2 cup lime juice
2 tsp honey (optional)
1/2 cup plain vodka (although I imagine coconut would be great, too!)This recipe was originally intended for margaritas, but when you have company on a Saturday night and find yourself without tequila… you make do with what you have! As a happy accident, this turned out really well, and is a refreshing drink in either its cocktail or virgin form.The idea came about when I realized that I had a watermelon that needed to be used… it was at its very sweetest, and there was no way that my husband and I could finish the whole thing ourselves.

I decided to cut it up into cubes and freeze it, and then meditate on the best way to make it into something delicious and full of liquor…


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I’m sure you can spot the blunder I made here: not using seedless watermelon. (When I bought this bad boy, I was thinking, “It’s just not summer if you’re eating watermelon without spitting out the seeds.” As a drink ingredient, however… not so much.)
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Once the watermelon cubes were frozen (that being the most-labor intensive part of this drink)…
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…I threw everything into a blender (honey last, so it didn’t stick to the blades), and pureed it into ice cold deliciousness:
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Deliciousness which is, of course, best enjoyed with friends (and maybe a lime wedge or two)! The lime flavor really brightens this whole drink, and the citrus bite is a great compliment to the sweet watermelon flavor– hence the name!
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Enjoy!
– KaitlinWe hope you liked our first Friday Evening Cocktail Hour! If you enjoy these themed posts, please let us know, and thanks for reading!
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