It's hot. Last week we were in the low hundreds (nearly 40°C for the metric readers). It's a sad state of affairs when you're trying to get your yard work done while it's only ninety outside.
After the proper rehydration with clear, crisp Memphis tap water, the mind turns to other forms of refreshment. This is the perfect time for some cocktails, but I'm looking for something different, a challenge for the palate, a new sensation. Let's rule out rum and vodka, bases of the most popular cocktails out there, and stick to gin as the primary spirit. We'll start the week with a pair of herb-flavored drinks. (Full recipes are available in the links below.)
While looking for inspiration I found the Infinite Monkeys' recipe for a Ten Thyme Smash, reverse engineered from sampling the cocktail at various restaurants. Fresh thyme and cucumber are in season, and plump limes are available everywhere.
This is an incredibly refreshing cocktail, not too sweet, sour, herbal, or strong. All elements are balanced well, which is the most important factor of a proper mixed drink. Friends Paul and Sally were likewise enchanted by this unusual recipe. I used a slice of cucumber for the garnish, but I think a cold Claussen pickle might be fun as well.
A related beverage is Bon Appétit's Raspberry Thyme Smash. I was actually more excited about this one ahead of time, but it was a bit disappointing. The consensus from the fellow diners was similar.
It's not bad, but the sour raspberry notes threw off the balance of the beverage. It can be fixed with additional sugar, but then you end up with something too sweet and you start losing the herbal characteristics. Definitely pretty, and certainly worth trying if you have the ingredients on hand. And spearing a berry on a sprig of thyme makes for a cool garnish, regardless of what's in the glass.