After much waiting, hemming, and hawing, my bulbs have started bursting into blooming flowers and my clematis vine has exploded into hundreds of beautiful little white blossoms. And what better way to celebrate the sunnier days and fresh life than with a similarly refreshing cocktail with The Botanist Gin , made from locally and sustainably foraged botanicals on the island of Islay in Scotland. Before I dive into this delicious drink though, I’m going to divert into a bit of backstory behind this celebratory drink—if you only want the ingredient deets, though, you can feel free to skip to the next paragraph 🙂 After what felt like the longest, darkest winter of my life (which consisted of Portland’s wettest February on record and being trapped in my home for 3 weeks due to intermittent ice and snow storms in December and January), the signs of life and renewal are a welcome change from the wet brown earth I’ve become accustomed to over the past 6 months.

There’s something about the spring that always makes me a bit introspective, seeing all the new life around me makes me think about what I could change in my life for the better—what I could do to leave the darkness of winter behind me and move myself to a place that’s brighter, warmer, vibrant, and happy. I turned 30 this past weekend, and I had an incredible birthday party with my closest friends that involved going through 200 of Tournant’s oysters and lots and lots of wine. I’d been freaking out a bit about the age change, which I know is silly, but I still feel very young in a lot of ways and the idea of leaving behind my 20’s made me feel a little uneasy (that’s putting it mildly.) So, to celebrate the brighter turns of events and season, I’m sharing this *insanely* delicious spring loaded cocktail with you guys! HUZZAH!!!

Let me tell you a little about this lush and spectacular drink–this cocktail is made of cucumber syrup, bitter lemon tonic water, hibiscus salt, pink peppercorns, and The Botanist Gin. The Botanist is incredibly unique in that it contains 22 different botanicals that are hand-foraged locally and sustainably on the remote island of Islay in Scotland. It’s made there at Bruichladdich Distillery, and the local ingredients create a flavor profile that’s unlike that of any gin I’ve ever tasted. It’s incredibly smooth, not at all anise-heavy, but instead comes forward with a wonderful bouquet lightly fruity flavors, a note of fresh herbs from the juniper, and leaves you with a soft floral finish. This is the only gin I’ve found that I love sipping on the rocks on its own, the flavor is so smooth and really fits perfectly with the smells and sights of spring. As for the cocktail, the fresh cucumber syrup and slightly bitter and tart lemon mineral water compliment the floral and slightly citrus nature of this gin perfectly, and then when you sprinkle a little hibiscus salt and pink peppercorn on top, you get the most wonderful tart-yet-salty bite when you take your first sip. Plus it turns the drink an alluring shade of pink! I have the recipes for homemade cucumber syrup, bitter lemon tonic water, hibiscus salt, and the cocktail below, but you can feel free to sub-in store bought versions of the syrup, lemon tonic, or hibiscus salt if you want to make things a little bit easier. I hope you enjoy it, friends! Cheers to spring!!

Spring Loaded Cocktail

Course Drinks
Servings 4 cocktails
Author Eva Kosmas Flores

Ingredients

Cucumber Syrup

  • 1 medium cucumber (cut into 1/8 inch-thick slices)
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 resealable plastic bag
  • water (as needed)

Bitter Lemon Tonic Water

  • 12 ounces tonic water
  • 6 ounces freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 2-inch strips lemon zest (peeled with a vegetable peeler and with the white pitch attached)

Wild Hibiscus Salt

  • 4 tablespoons flake sea salt (such as maldon)
  • 2 tablespoons dried hibiscus flowers (pulsed in a blender or food processor until coarsely ground)
  • 1 teaspoon water

Spring Loaded Cocktail

  • 8 ounces The Botanist gin
  • 2 ounces cucumber syrup
  • 16 ounces lemon tonic water
  • 12 pink peppercorns
  • 1 pinch wild hibiscus salt

Instructions

Cucumber Syrup

  1. Combine the cucumber slices and sugar in a resealable plastic bag. Press out the air, seal the bag, and toss gently to coat the cucumbers in the sugar. Set aside at room temperature for 4 hours. Add a little water to the bag to help dissolve more of the sugar, then strain out the cucumber slices, reserving the syrup. Store the syrup in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Bitter Lemon Tonic Water

  1. Stir together the tonic water, lemon juice, and sugar in a large mixing glass until the sugar has dissolved. Add the lemon zest strips and use a muddler to push down on and twist the zest at the bottom of the mixing glass, muddling for about 1 minute. Allow the mixture to rest for 10 minutes before removing the zest. Store the lemon tonic water in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Wild Hibiscus Salt

  1. Combine the salt, ground dried hibiscus flowers, and water in a mortar, using a pestle to crush and grind them together. Once combined and the salt turns a pinkish hue, spread it out in as thin a layer as possible on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and allow the salt to dry out completely overnight. Break the sheet of salt apart into small pieces and store in an airtight container at room temperature.

Spring Loaded Cocktail

  1. Chill the 4 serving glasses by placing them in a freezer or filling them with ice cubes. Add the gin and cucumber syrup to a cocktail shaker. Fill the shaker with crushed ice, place the cap on the shaker, and shake it vigorously for 10 seconds.

  2. Strain the mixture into a large mixing glass. Add the lemon tonic water and stir to combine. Distribute between the 4 serving glasses and garnish each one with 3 pink peppercorns and a pinch of the wild hibiscus salt.

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