Sous vide machines are staples of the modern restaurant kitchen and have found favor among adventurous home cooks. But they aren’t just for preparing food—they can also be used to produce flavorful cocktail ingredients, including syrups and infusions.
The Elder Greene Blues is an original creation from Adam Gamboa of Denver Italian restaurant Il Posto. Along with a couple standard additions, like Grand Marnier and fresh lime juice, the eye-catching drink features cucumber-basil-infused vodka and a basil syrup, both made with a sous vide machine. By cooking the infusion and syrup concurrently in sealed containers in a low-temperature water bath, Gamboa is able to extract more flavor out of each ingredient than he could by infusing them at room temperature.
Cucumber, basil and Fresno peppers imbue the vodka with a rich vegetal and herbal note, while the basil-infused simple syrup provides the cocktail with bright colors and another rich vein of basil flavor. Together they combine to create one of the freshest, most vibrant cocktails around.
Using a sous vide machine to make a cocktail may seem complicated, but the devices are actually quite easy to use—and they take a lot of the guesswork out of cooking by dialing in the exact temperature you want. You’ll feel like a chef mixing this drink. And the best part is that you’re making large batches of infused vodka and basil syrup. So while it takes some prep work to make your ingredients, you’ll have plenty of leftovers on hand to make another round of drinks—or to experiment with other cocktails.
- 2 ounces cucumber-basil-infused vodka*
- 1/2 ounce Grand Marnier
- 1/2 ounce basil syrup**
- 1/2 ounce lime juice, freshly squeezed
- Garnish: lemon wheel
- Garnish: cracked peppercorns
Add the infused vodka, Grand Marnier, basil syrup and lime juice into a shaker with ice and shake until well-chilled.
Strain into a rocks glass over fresh ice.
Garnish with a lemon wheel and a few cracked peppercorns.
*Cucumber-basil-infused vodka: In a vacuum-sealable bag, add 1 liter of vodka, 1/3 of a cucumber (sliced), 10 basil leaves, 5 Fresno peppers (or sweet peppers if you don’t want the heat) and 2 thyme sprigs. Seal the bag and place it into a sous vide bath for 2 hours at 130 degrees Fahrenheit. Let cool, then strain the solids.
**Basil syrup: In a second vacuum-sealable bag, add 2 cups white granulated sugar and 2 cups very hot water. Shake to dissolve the sugar, then add 25 basil leaves. Seal the bag and place it into the same sous vide bath as the vodka, for 2 hours at 130 degrees Fahrenheit. Let cool, then strain the solids. Add an additional 15 basil leaves, chill for about 2 hours in the refrigerator, then strain the solids.