This Cucumber Ginger Martini, known as the “Shell-tini,” makes an appearance in the hilarious novel Smothered by Autumn Chiklis. Character Shelly “Mama Shell” Hansen orders this signature drink on the regular. A breezy mix of muddled cucumber, ginger agave syrup, basil, lime, gin and vermouth, the Shell-tini is a light and refreshing take on a classic 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. Michelle is actually the inspiration behind the character of Shelly “Mama Shell” Hansen, the comedic centerpiece of the book.
Autumn’s novel very loosely imitates life; the story is inspired by Michelle’s candid, often hilarious text messages to Autumn. 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 just 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. By contrast, Shelly “Mama Shell” Hansen is thrilled to have her daughter home… a bit too thrilled. Her overbearing nature soon begins to “smother” Lou, who desperately seeks independence. Hilarity ensues.
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 for this coming Labor Day weekend.
What better way to enjoy Smothered than with a signature Shell-tini cocktail? In the book, the drink is described as follows:
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 the Shell-tini is below, along with an alcohol free “mocktail” variation. The Ginger Agave Simple Syrup is particularly lovely; it takes some time to make, but a batch will last a long time, and you can use it for many other drinks. I especially enjoy it in hot tea.
Cheers to pleasure reading on a long, lazy Labor Day weekend!
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Cucumber Ginger Martini - The Shell-tini
- 1 Persian cucumber or a 4-inch long piece of English cucumber
- 2 fresh basil leaves
- 1 1/2 oz gin
- 1/2 oz dry vermouth
- 1/2 oz fresh lime juice
- 1/2 oz ginger agave simple syrup, recipe linked below
- 6 ice cubes
- 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.