Cool as A Cucumber                                        

I can’t imagine myself cooling off in a sidewalk cafe when it’s really steamy. But I see no reason why we can’t all cool off with the cocktail that took first prize in the City’s Second Annual Sidewalk Cafe Drink Mix-Off late in May in a lecture hall at the Institute of Culinary Education.

To be frank, I didn’t even notice there was a first Mix-Off last year. It’s a sweet gig put on by the City’s Department of Consumer Affairs and the New York State Restaurant Association, mostly so they can point out that New York now has over 900 legal sidewalk cafes. I agreed to be a judge this year, which is how I came to discover the Porch Swing -- the judges’ unanimous winner by mixologist Jay Doren, beverage director of Blue Smoke. Smartly refreshing, it tastes like a summer classic with its hit of gin and Pimm’s Cup No. 1, although I can’t say I’ve been drinking either since I-can’t-remember-what decade. Subtly sweet homemade lemonade, a splash of 7-Up, and slivers of sliced cucumber tossed on at the end are the operative coolants.

Blue Smoke’s Porch Swing

        1 ½ oz Hendricks Gin
        1 ½ oz Pimm’s Cup No. 1
        4 oz Homemade Blue Smoke Lemonade (1 part fresh squeezed lemon juice, 1 part simple syrup to 2 parts water)

 Pour into tall Collins glass. Add a splash of 7-Up. Finish with 10 paper-thin half-moon slices of cucumber.
 There was a marvelous non-alcoholic winner, too.

Bubby’s Watermelon Lemonade

        2 oz fresh squeezed lemon juice
        4 oz fresh watermelon puree, strained through course strainer to remove seeds
        1 ½ oz simple syrup
        6 oz water

 Shake and serve over ice with a big wedge of fresh watermelon as garnish.

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