Birthday Princess Week is going quite well, thank you. I’m obviously a little panicky that it’s almost over, but I’m trying not to get ahead of myself. There’s still Birthday Princess Weekend and plenty of sparkling vodka cocktails ahead. Thank God.
Of all my birthday parties, I think my 13th was my favorite. I feel somewhat guilty saying that because a lot of time and effort went into my 21st, and many friends traveled long distances to lick the ice bar with “Serena” carved into it. However, 21 was ultimately disqualified from the party race based on insufficient memory data. You win some, you lose some.
Thanks to the virgin nature of the punch, I remember almost every detail of my 13th birthday party, which was a tween girl’s fantasy: pool party and barbecue in the late afternoon, followed by a raucous, hormone-fueled DJ dance party after dark. “No Strings Attached” had just dropped, I wore a killer new pair of stretchy capris, and my recently acquired boobs totally distracted from the whole braces/pixie cut situation. It was a perfect storm of birthday princess awesomeness, and I shall cherish the memories forever.
PLUS, my little brother’s bday is 3 days after mine, and we decided to do our celebrations on the same day that year. (Fun Fact: Elliot, 6 years my junior, was actually supposed to be born on March 22 as well. I’m very grateful my mother did not let that happen.) A bouncy house was installed in our driveway for his shindig, and given the 24-hour rental, the house was not removed by the time my party rolled around. It is not acceptable to get a bouncy house for your 13th birthday, but it’s pretty sweet when one just happens to be there…
While my 28th birthday plans do not involve poolside festivities or a moon bounce, they’ve still got potential. I will be sleeping in, brunching, and eating obscene amounts of Momofuku cake with my besties before an early roommate dinner at L’Artusi. There will also be Cucumber-Mint Sparklers.
Lots and lots of Cucumber-Mint Sparklers.
Given that today is the first official day of spring, I think the timing of this post it quite apt. It may be snowing in NYC, but it’s about to get happy and sunny (???!!!) around these parts and refreshing cocktails will be in order. I’m thinking about making these my signature drink for the next few months, and I’d appreciate some company on the bandwagon, people.
As far as cocktail profiles go, these are on the light, bright and slightly sweet side. Cucumber is muddled with fresh lime juice, shaken with vodka and mint simple syrup, and then topped with a heavy pour of Prosecco (or champagne if you’re feeling particularly fancy). You get the cucumber and bubbles on your taste buds first and then a surprising, minty finish. It’s straight-up delightful, if I do say so myself.
This drink also happens to look quite festive, and it could easily be punch bowl-ified for a crowd if you’re so inclined. From brunches and wedding/baby showers to Derby parties and summer soirées, this is an excellent addition to your rapidly expanding repertoire. Please get on it.
A couple quick notes. First, the cocktail is actually a very pale green (it strangely didn’t come through in these photos), so please don’t be alarmed by the color when you make your own Cucumber-Mint Sparkler. You did not screw it up.
Second, the recipe below yields about a cup of mint simple syrup, which is plenty for upwards of 15 cocktails. If you’re only making one (such restraint!), you’ll have a significant amount leftover. SWEET. The stuff keeps in the fridge for 2 weeks and you can use it to sweeten future cocktails, tea, coffee, and even yogurt, ice cream and baked goods. Hallelujah.
Happy Friday, friends! This birthday princess is very happy you’re here.
1-inch piece of seedless cucumber, finely chopped
½ ounce fresh lime juice (that’s the juice from about half a lime)
1½ ounces vodka
2 teaspoons mint simple syrup (recipe below)
3 ounces Prosecco or champagne
½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup water
½ cup fresh mint leaves
3-4 slices cucumber
1 sprig fresh mint
First, you’ll need to make the simple syrup. In a small saucepan, bring the sugar, water and mint leaves to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, swirling the saucepan occasionally, until the sugar dissolves, 1-2 minutes. Remove from the heat and cool completely before using.
In a cocktail shaker, muddle the chopped cucumber with the lime juice. Add the vodka, simple syrup and a few ice cubes, and shake vigorously until the outside of the shaker becomes frosty. Strain into a glass filled with ice (I like crushed ice for this), and top with Prosecco. Garnish with the cucumber slice and mint sprig.
Get after it.
The simple syrup can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. It will come in handy for future coffee, and also as a sweetener for tea, coffee, and even baked goods. Feel free to get creative.
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