This is sort of like the "what are you reading?" question, except less boring but with the same possibility of becoming crazily pretentious. I'm hoping we can amass some excellent beer, wine, and spirit recommendations, along with cocktail recipes and links to your favorite bars—basically so I have somewhere to drink when I find myself in your fair city.
I'll kick things off with a gin cocktail recipe designed as a coping mechanism for the hellacious Midwestern heat and humidity that's been assaulting us lately.
makes 1 drink**
2 slices hothouse/English cucumber
1 slice of lime
.5-.75 oz simple syrup or to taste
7-8 mint leaves
1.5 generous oz. gin (Hendricks would make sense because of the cucumber; otherwise, use London Dry style)
.5 generous oz. Aperol
tonic water (not diet for the love of all that is holy)***
lime slice, cucumber slice, and mint sprig to garnish
In a cocktail shaker, muddle the cucumber, lime, mint, and simple. Really mush the hell out of them and be sure to extract the essential oil from the lime rind. Pour in the spirits and fill the shaker with ice. Shake until really cold and then strain into a Collins glass filled with chipped ice. Fill up the rest of the glass with tonic water and arrange the garnishes artfully. Drink and repeat process as needed.
* Okay. Technically a smash contains no cucumber, lime, or fizz of any sort, and is typically made with whiskey or bourbon. But I love Aperol and I love to smash things, so it seemed an appropriate name.
** You can scale up the drink quite easily by muddling larger quantities of the aromatics, gin, and Aperol, straining them, and chilling thoroughly in the fridge. At cocktail time, divide the spirit mixture equally among however many glasses and proceed with tonic and garnishes.
*** Fentiman's and Fever Tree are the best commercial tonic waters I have had. Q tonic is okay but I find that the agave they use in it can sometimes screw around with the botanical flavors in the gin.