Padma Lakshmi Calls Her Fan-Favorite Summer Cocktail a "Green Juice with Vodka"
Cucumber season is upon us, and there are *so* many recipes on our to-make list—everything from cucumber salads and sandwiches to dips and even lemonade. Now Padma Lakshmi, television host, producer, cookbook author and Instagram chef extraordinaire, has shared another tasty recipe to add to the list.
Lakshmi took to Instagram over the weekend to share her easy summer cocktail that puts a boozy spin on a favorite healthy drink. "I need a drink," Lakshmi jokes in the video. "Basically, you're having a green juice with vodka."
Her recipe starts with combining equal parts water and sugar in a small saucepan to make simple syrup. Add some fresh ginger to the pan for a ginger syrup that will add some sweetness to your drink. (Lakshmi says she eyeballed most of these ingredients, but we would recommend using ½ cup water, ½ cup sugar and 3 tablespoons of fresh ginger to make your syrup. You can strain out the solids and store the syrup in the fridge for up to two weeks—try the rest in our Moscow Mule Mocktail.)
While your syrup cools, dice some cucumber and add it to a blender with fresh cilantro, mint and lime juice. (If you're serving folks with a cilantro aversion, you can always just double up on the fresh mint or sub in some sweet basil.) Add a splash of your simple syrup and whiz it up in the blender until the mixture is smooth. Strain some of the green juice mixture into your glass and top with vodka and ice.
It might not have quite the same nutritious kick as your favorite glass of green juice, but it's sure to add some refreshment to your day. And if you love unwinding with a cocktail on a warm night, that can absolutely be a healthy part of your routine. In fact, recent research shows that having a drink or two on weeknights might be healthier for you than waiting until the weekend to imbibe. And did we mention that other researchers have found a link between moderate drinking and better cognition as you get older? That said, if you don't drink, this research is not a reason to start.
Of course, if you're trying to limit your alcohol consumption or don't drink, we'd be willing to bet that this drink would be just as tasty topped up with your favorite seltzer instead of vodka, especially if you add a lime wedge and mint sprig on the side. And sober pals would probably appreciate a mocktail this refreshing at your next summer get-together.
There are plenty of twists on this recipe we want to try, courtesy of the commenters on Lakshmi's post. One fan suggests swapping the vodka for tequila reposado, while another suggests gin. If you don't have the prescribed vodka on hand, Lakshmi says just about anything will do. "Use whatever spirit you'd like!," she wrote in the comments. "Vodka was what I had, but I bet this would be delicious with tequila or mezcal, too."
Just remember to scoop up some fresh herbs, cucumber, ginger and citrus on your next grocery run, and you'll be ready to whip up this recipe whenever the mood strikes. After all, it's happy hour somewhere, right?