Cocktail and BookNot all of the recipe compilations we’re working through for the June Cookbook Challenge are food-focused.  We’ve also got our share of cocktail recipe books, and we committed to working our way through all of those during the month, as well.

One of those books, Highballs High Heels, describes itself as “a girl’s guide to the art of cocktails.”  Good news – these are definitely not gender-specific drinks (though the names and descriptions are definitely geared toward young women who like to entertain).  They pack a decent punch, and they run the gamut from the sweet and fruity to the strong and bracing.

Looking to enjoy a mid-afternoon pick-me-up, we opted to try something called the “Bikinitini.”  It’s got cucumber sticks for garnish – talk about refreshing!  This frozen beverage makes a great alternative to a margarita, and it goes down way too easily.  Enjoy them by the blender-full!


4 ounces vodka
2 ounces triple sec
2 ounces fresh lemon juice
1 cup peeled, seeded and cubed cucumber
4 fresh mint leaves (optional)
2 cups cracked ice

1 small cucumber, cut into long,thin sticks for garnish

In a blender, combine all of the ingredients except the cucumber sticks.  Blend until thick and slushy, with no ice chips remaining.  Divide the mixture among four 6-ounce cocktail glasses.  Garnish each drink with a cucumber stick or two.

Basil VodkaIt’s no big secret that we love a good cocktail here at Capital Spice.  Consequently, several of our cookbooks are actually collections of cocktails.  From the classics to the most eccentric, we’ve got our libations covered.  On our recent trip to San Francisco, though, a visit to Chronicle Books turned up a book that I just couldn’t resist. 

Infused: 100+ Recipes for Infused Liqueurs and Cocktails focuses on just what you’d think it does.  Ever since my failed attempt to make bourbacon, I’ve been eager to try my hand at making some homemade infusions to use in cocktails.  I snatched up the book and brought it home.

Since our June Cookbook Challenge applies to all of our recipe books, I decided there was no time quite like the present to try my hand at an infusion.  With some beautiful basil growing out on our deck (thanks to the folks at Shenandoah Growers, who sent us some of their organic “Living Culinary Herbs” to try for ourselves), I knew that I wanted to attempt a basil-infused vodka.

Taking a bottle of Absolut 100 that we bought with the intention of making our own limoncello, I poured the contents into a clean half-gallon Mason jar.  To this, I added one cup of lightly packed basil leaves that I rinsed and dried.

Filtering Basil VodkaAnd that was pretty much all there was to it.  I left the bottle in a cool, dark place to steep for 24 hours before opening the jar up and pouring the contents through a coffee filter.  The bright green color that the vodka had taken on was striking, and the vegetative, musky aroma of the basil was unmistakable.

With the vodka strained, I poured it back into its original bottle using a funnel (Thank you, Georgetown, for teaching me such valuable skills).  The bottle went back into its cool, dark hiding place for another week to further enhance its flavor.

We put the liqueur to the test with some friends this past weekend – inviting them over for a drink that involved the basil vodka, muddled strawberries, and rosemary-balsamic simple syrup.  The high alcohol content of the Absolut 100 gave it a bit of an alcoholic burn, but the balance of sweet and savory flavors made for a great time.

We’ve still got plenty of basil vodka left…anyone for a Bloody Mary brunch?