Is there really anything better than eating outside on a beautiful night in the summer? I can’t think of very much. There’s just something magical about sitting under the stars, with twinkling lights and candles, and your significant person, or a really close group of friends. And cocktails, of course. It can be at a restaurant that has outdoor seating, which I happen to love, especially when you find a place in the city that has courtyard seating in the back that you didn’t even know about. Or it can be in someone’s backyard, on a deck or a patio, or maybe even poolside. There are a number of farms and restaurants in our area that collaborate and do Dinner in the Fields, farm-to-table events, where you’re literally sitting right next to the crops and eating what the farmers have grown. I haven’t been to one yet, but it’s on my bucket list for sure. There are so many times I can recall, some only recently, that have been made special simply by the fact that we were seated outside. There’s even something about the conversation that changes. With no walls for things to create an echo, it seems to become quieter, and more intimate somehow.
Today’s cocktail is meant to be a celebration of outdoor dining, and so I wanted it to be a refreshing blend of all things that say summer. I had to start with gin as my base, and I chose to go with Plymouth because I was planning to pair it with the bright herbal flavor of Green Chartreuse. I added in some lime juice, muddled basil and cucumber, and a honeydew japapeño shrub from Element, making this a riff on a Collins drink served in a thrift store glass that made me think of a garden party. Happy Summer! Dine outside tonight and get lost in conversation.
Add the cucumber slices and the basil leaves to a shaker tin with the simple syrup and muddle them gently. Add in the remaining ingredients, except for the club soda, and shake with ice until very cold. Strain into a Collins glass over ice and top with club soda. Garnish with a cucumber ribbon and a basil sprig. Cheers! Happy summer nights!