Summer Spa Water, or Cucumber-Infused Vodka

While the rest of the country swelters, we’ve been enjoying one of the most gloriously mild and sunny summers I’ve experienced in more than two decades in San Francisco. Normally around now, the city is covered with a heavy, wet fog, and blustery winds slap sheets of it in your face like a cold washcloth. Instead, once the morning fog pulls back, it’s been downright nice, even occasionally what passes for hot around here. Like, in the 70s.

If you’re in the scorched center or eastern parts of the company, maybe you’re looking for some of that cold washcloth treatment to cut the edge. I can’t deliver the fog to you, but I can offer you a solution that’s almost as good.

Think about it. When else do you sit around sweating in unreasonable heat and humidity? That’s right, in a sauna or steam room. And what refreshes in said environment? Spa water. Only, we’re talking summer here, and mere water just ain’t gonna cut it this time. No, clearly this calls for vodka. Ice. Cold. Vodka.

If you’ve never made a vodka infusion, it’s simple as can be. Just take your ingredients, chop them up, and steep them in your booze for a few days or so. Practically anything is fair game. You’ll end up with a gorgeously aromatic and flavorful tipple that doesn’t have the chemical aftertaste of store-bought “flavored” vodkas.

Not surprisingly, strawberry vodka tastes like strawberries. Vanilla vodka tastes like vanilla. But cucumber? Cucumber vodka tastes like pure, cool refreshment. Like an ocean breeze wafting across a freshly-watered lawn. Like manna from heaven when summer’s breath of hell bears down on you.

It’s not just the naturally refreshing flavor of cucumber, which is synonymous with the optimal state of coolness. The real secret here is that the cucumber imparts just enough water to the vodka so that, when brought down to a stone-cold chill, tiny sheets of ice crash on your tongue when you take a sip. A tiny avalanche on your parched palate. Take that, heat wave.

Cucumber Vodka

1 medium cucumber
1 750-ml bottle 80 proof vodka

Peel the cucumber. Cut it in half, and scoop the seeds out with a spoon. Discard the seeds and skins. Cut the cucumber into chunks, and put in a glass or other non-reactive container (about 1.5 liter). Pour the vodka over. Seal, and give it a shake. Store in a cool, dark place, shaking daily, for 3-7 days, until it reaches the flavor you want. Strain with a coffee filter, and pour into a sealable bottle. Place in freezer. Pull shots at the hottest time of day.