Story Jason Browne | Photographs Luisa Porter
If there’s a flaw with the Cucumber Frais (pronounced “fray,” meaning “fresh”) at the Columbus Harveys, it’s that it goes too fast.
Bartender Crystal Taylor designed the drink as a warm-weather treat: light and sweet with fresh cucumbers, Hendrick’s Gin, St. Germain elderflower liqueur, house basil simple syrup, fresh lime juice and tonic. Except it all blends so well that the gin and the liqueur almost vanish, leaving only cold, sweet fizz.
On a hot day, patient drinkers might stretch it out to 10 minutes of disciplined sips. The rest of us gluttons will be ordering another in two.
“A lot of our original drinks are easy to drink on purpose. Most people don’t like the taste of alcohol. And gin is one of those liquors that people who like it, love it, but most people don’t like it at all. Hendrick’s is one of the smoother gins,” says Taylor.
She conceived the Cucumber Frais in the waning summer months of 2014 as part of a new lineup of original drinks that will be featured on Harveys menu this summer. It will be joined by mixes like the Honey Strawberry Fizz, the Summertime Bourbon and the Pomegranate Press.
“We got a juicer last summer, so we try to use as many fresh, local ingredients as possible,” says Taylor. “The muddled cucumbers and lime juice are all made on the spot, and the basil simple syrup is something chef Joe Bullock and I came up with.”
½ ounce Hendrick’s Gin
1½ ounces St-Germain elderflower liqueur
1 ounce fresh lime juice
¾ ounce basil simple syrup
• Muddle slice of cucumber in shaker then add all other ingredients.
• Shake and strain over ice.
• Top with tonic water.
To make basil simple syrup:
Combine 1 cup sugar with ½ cup water and ½ cup washed basil leaves in small saucepan. Bring to a simmer on medium heat, stirring occasionally, until sugar has dissolved. Remove from heat. Let syrup cool completely, then pour through a fine sieve into a jar or resealable container. Store up to one week in refrigerator.