This breezy Cucumber Martini with ginger and basil has a crisp, clean flavor. It’s an aromatic cocktail of muddled cucumber, ginger agave syrup, basil, lime, gin, and vermouth. Additionally, this cucumber martini recipe comes with a story — in fact, it’s inspired by one!
Cucumber Martini – As Seen in the Novel “Smothered”
This cucumber martini recipe makes an appearance in the hilarious novel Smothered by Autumn Chiklis. Character Shelly “Mama Shell” Hansen orders this signature drink on the regular. Known as the “Shell-tini,” it’s a light and refreshing take on a classic martini cocktail.
Smothered is the debut novel for Autumn Chiklis, who fresh out of college (a fellow Trojan from USC – fight on!) nabbed a publishing deal with her abundant wit and talent. A few years back Autumn’s mom Michelle shared her technique for creating the perfect spritzer bar here on the blog. As a matter of fact, Michelle is the inspiration behind the character of Shelly “Mama Shell” Hansen, the comedic centerpiece of the book.
Autumn’s novel very loosely imitates life. Michelle’s candid, often hilarious text messages to Autumn inspired the story. Despite her novel persona, in real life Michelle is certainly more grounded than Mama Shell. But it’s fun to know that her witty text messages sparked such a fun read. The book is so fun, in fact, that it hit the LA Times Bestseller List!
In Smothered, Eloise “Lou” Hansen graduates from Columbia University summa cum laude, ready to conquer the world. Without a job lined up, she moves back into her childhood bedroom, where she concocts a plan to find employment and get her own place. On the other hand, Shelly “Mama Shell” Hansen is thrilled to have her daughter home… a bit too thrilled. Shelly’s overbearing nature soon begins to “smother” Lou, who desperately seeks independence. Consequently, hilarity ensues– including copious amounts of cucumber martinis!
With colorfully drawn characters and a whimsical format comprised of text messages, emails, tweets, receipts, and journal entries, Smothered is a light and entertaining read.
How to Make a Cucumber Martini
What better way to enjoy Smothered than with a signature Shell-tini cocktail? Here is the Shell-tini cucumber martini recipe, as described in the book:
The bar created the Shell-tini for Mom’s fortieth birthday, in honor of her signature order. Naturally, it’s become their top seller and frequently appears on their Instagram page. Ingredients include: cucumber for hydration; ginger and lime juice for digestion; dry vermouth, gin, agave, and basil to “combat stress.”
My take on this cucumber martini recipe is below, along with an alcohol free “mocktail” variation. The Ginger Agave Simple Syrup is particularly lovely. Sure, it takes some time to make. However a batch will last a long time, and you can use it for many other drinks. I especially enjoy it in hot tea. Cheers!
Smothered: A Novel by Autumn Chiklis
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- 1 Persian cucumber, or a 4-inch long piece of English cucumber
- 2 fresh basil leaves
- 1 1/2 ounces gin
- 1/2 ounce dry vermouth
- 1/2 ounce fresh lime juice
- 1/2 ounce ginger agave simple syrup, recipe linked below
- 6 ice cubes (2.4 ounces of ice)
- Thin cucumber slices and/or fresh basil leaves, for garnish
- Make ginger agave simple syrup ahead, cool completely before using in cocktail.
- Peel and seed the cucumber, then cut into chunks.
- Add cucumber chunks to cocktail shaker. Tear up the basil leaves and add them to the shaker.
- Muddle the cucumber and basil gently to release their flavors.
- Add gin, vermouth, fresh lime juice and ginger agave simple syrup to the shaker along with ice cubes.
- Cover shaker and shake to blend. Strain the drink into a chilled martini glass. Serve.
- Mocktail Variation: Muddle the cucumber and basil together in a cocktail shaker as described above. Add 1 oz. ginger agave syrup, 1/2 oz. fresh lime juice, and 1 1/4 cup sparkling water. Stir the ingredients gently, then put the lid on the shaker. Do not shake, simply strain the drink into a glass. Garnish with cucumber slices and a whole basil leaf. Serve.
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