I'm Elyse. Some of my most vivid and cherished memories are around a table with friends and family, and I want that for you, too.
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With cushy robes, relaxing pan flute, and ALL the pampering, going to the spa is the ultimate luxury experience. I’ve only gone a couple of times but every time I do, I straddle the line between enjoying myself and feeling wildly self-conscious and uncomfortable. It feels excessively self-indulgent and it’s hard to turn off the part of my brain that says I don’t deserve to be pampered. But, I take a few deep breaths, grab myself some water and snacks, and remember that I spent too much money on a relaxing experience to not relax. All of the spas I’ve gone to serve fruit, vegetables, and mediocre cookies as snacks, which makes the water the star of the show.
Spa water usually has cucumbers, mint, and lemon or oranges in it, and is probably one of the most refreshing things on the planet. Since it is hitting the triple digits over here in LA, it is way too hot for a full week of turning on my stove and oven for recipe testing. So, I turned to my love of flavored water for some delicious cocktail inspiration.
This cocktail uses the same principles as an agua fresca, or fresh water. Mexican lore credits the origin of this delicious bev to the Aztecs (and I found a sweet write-up in New Mexico Magazine that has a horchata recipe as a bonus!). Typically, fruit and sugar are blended with water to create a refreshing and colorful drink, perfect for warm days. Here, we’re blending honeydew with vodka and a cucumber simple syrup to the same effect. And, because we can’t leave good enough alone, we’re also throwing in mint, lemon, and a touch of elderflower liquor.
Start with the Cucumber Simple Syrup
Putting cucumber in cocktails is one of my favorite things. It pairs great with a ton of flavors, from berries to herbs and citrus—and adds a beautiful floral element to whatever it touches. When making a classic simple syrup, it is 1:1 sugar to water. However, when I’m adding anything vegetal or herby to a simple syrup, I like to adjust that ratio to 2:1. Another tip is to peel your cucumber before using it, as the skin can be overly bitter and earthy.
Onto the Honeydew Vodka
I love infusing liquors. It adds such a fun and unexpected touch to any home cocktail. (You can see my recipe for fat washing bourbon here.) However, proper infusions can take time, especially when working with mild flavors like honeydew. So instead, we are simply blending honeydew and vodka together and straining the pulp out, leaving behind a bright green mixture of juice and booze. If, like me, you end up not getting a particularly ripe honeydew, feel free to add some plain simple syrup to the blender.
Finishing Your Cocktail
We are making a big batch of cucumber simple syrup and honeydew vodka, enough for about 7 cocktails, so you can serve this spa water poolside with friends. Both the cucumber simple syrup and the honeydew vodka keeps in the refrigerator for about 2 weeks, so feel free to make those parts ahead of time.
To garnish these, I used a vegetable peeler to take a long strip of cucumber and zigzag’d it onto a toothpick. I also added a sugar rim for something extra special. To do this yourself, zest 1/2 a lemon, 1/2 an orange, and finely chop some mint leaves (I used about 4). In a shallow dish, pour some sugar on top of the zests and mint, working it between your fingers, adding more sugar until it reaches the consistency of wet sand. Enjoy!
The perfect summer cocktail is here! Cucumbers, mint, lemon, and honeydew take this vodka cocktail to a whole new level.
For the cucumber simple syrup:
1 med. cucumber, peeled and roughly chopped
1/2C granulated sugar
For the honeydew vodka:
1/2 honeydew melon, coarsely chopped
1oz simple syrup (if needed)
For the cocktail:
6–8 mint leaves
.5oz lemon juice
.5 – .75oz cucumber simple syrup
.5oz elderflower liquor
2oz honeydew vodka
Make the cucumber simple syrup:
In a saucepan, combine the cucumber chunks, granulated sugar, and water over medium heat.
Stir until the sugar has completely dissolved and the cucumber begins to soften. While stirring, I like to break up some of the cucumber bits with the back of my spoon to encourage more flavor mingling.
Take off the heat and allow it to cool for about 15 minutes before straining into a container. Store in the refrigerator until ready to use.
Make the honeydew vodka:
In a blender, add the vodka and honeydew pieces. Blend until no large chunks remain.
Give the mixture a taste. If you aren’t getting much honeydew flavor, add the 1oz of simple syrup and blend again until combined.
Strain through a mesh strainer into a sealable container and store in the refrigerator until ready to use.
Make the cocktail:
Add the mint leaves, lemon juice, and cucumber simple syrup to a shaker. I like a more acidic cocktail, so I only use .5oz of syrup, but if you like a sweeter cocktail, use .75oz. Muddle until the mint leaves are broken up and have released their oils.
Add ice, honeydew vodka, and elderflower liquor. Shake until cold and strain into a highball glass full of ice.