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Lauren Mote’s Cucumber, Melon and Ginger mocktail

Elaborate homemade vermouth and a mèlange of tropical ingredients give this Hong Kong-inspired mocktail refreshing and complex flavours.

Lauren Mote has been around the world, but the buzz and many tastes of Hong Kong stand out. If you didn’t know, HK is over twice as big as Toronto and boasts a dizzying number of eating and drinking establishments – heaven for a globetrotting mixologist like Lauren.

In The Bartender’s Guide To The World, a collection of cocktails and stories inspired by Lauren’s world travels, she writes: “Each time I have visited Hong Kong it’s been humid and hot – it makes one crave refreshing, long cocktails with fresh, tropical flavours.” This stunning 0% cocktail more than fits the bill, made with an intricate homemade zero-proof vermouth.

If you’ve never made your own spirits or shrubs before, don’t panic – the ingredient list for this recipe seems daunting, but gathering them is most of the work. When you’re sipping on the cocktail, all the steps will have been more than worth it.

Glass of peach liquid

Greenish

Ingredients
  

Ginger Shrub

  • 1 piece fresh ginger  3-inch (7.5 cm)
  • 150 g superfine or granulated sugar
  • 5 oz filtered water
  • 5 oz cane vinegar

Simple Syrup

  • 250 g superfine or granulated sugar
  • 8 oz cold filtered water

White Sand NA Vermouth

  • 100 g superfine or granulated sugar
  • 8 oz coconut water
  • 8 oz nonalcoholic white wine like Muscat
  • 20 g canned lychee fruit rinsed and chopped
  • 12 g unsweetened coconut flakes toasted
  • 6 g dried lemon peels
  • 5 g fresh lemongrass chopped
  • 3.5 g citric acid
  • 2 g marshmallow root
  • 2 g whole dried apple rings
  • 2 g green cardamom pods smashed
  • 2 g dandelion root
  • 2 g American oak chips
  • 1 g tonka bean crushed
  • 2 g cinnamon stick (about 2 inches/5 cm)
  • 1 g kosher salt
  • ¼ oz cinchona bark tincture

Greenish

  • 4 slices cucumber
  • 2 cubes honeydew melon (1-inch/2.5 cm cubes)
  • oz White Sand NA Vermouth
  • ¾ oz Ginger Shrub
  • ¾ oz Simple Syrup
  • ½ oz fresh lime juice
  • 2 dashes celery bitters (like Bittered Sling Cascade Celery)
  • 2 oz cold filtered water
  • honeydew melon peel for garnish
  • bouquet of fresh cilantro for garnish
  • mint for garnish
  • basil for garnish

Instructions
 

Ginger Shrub

  • Set up a juicer. Chop the ginger into small pieces. Run the ginger through the juicer, then strain the juice. You should have about 3½ ounces (100 mL) juice. Add the juice to a blender, along with the sugar, water, and vinegar. Blend on medium until the sugar is dissolved. Strain the liquid through a mesh sieve into a sanitized bottle, label with the date, and store in the fridge for up to 10 days.

Simple Syrup

  • Add the sugar and the water to a nonreactive container and whisk until the sugar is dissolved. Store in a sanitized bottle, labeled with the date, in the fridge for up to 10 days.

Greenish

  • Place the cucumber and melon in a shaker and press with a muddler to break them up. Fill the shaker with ice and add the vermouth, shrub, syrup, lime juice, and bitters. Using some force, shake hard for 5 seconds. Using a small fine- mesh bar sieve to catch the loose ice chips, double strain into a carbonated drink maker (like the Drinkmate). Add the filtered water and follow the manufacturer’s instructions to carbonate. Gently release the pressure and pour into a chilled champagne flute. For the garnish, roll the melon peel around the bouquet of herbs and thread onto a cocktail pick and place across the top of the glass.

A cookbook cover in a light frame

Excerpted from A Bartender’s Guide to the World: Cocktails and Stories from 75 Places by Lauren Mote and James O. Fraioli. Copyright © 2022 Lauren Mote and James O. Fraioli. Cover and book design by Terri Nimmo. Cover and book photography by Jonathan Chovancek. Published by Appetite by Random House, a division of Penguin Random House Canada Limited. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved.
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