At Rich Table in San Francisco—a sleek and industrial restaurant specializing in local, seasonal Californian cuisine—bar manager Tommy Quimby builds a creative menu of cocktails to pair with the lauded cooking from founders Evan and Sarah Rich. One example is the Green Eyes, which features an unconventional vodka infusion. While you may have seen the likes of cucumber, lime and ginger with vodka before, the Green Eyes goes a new direction with sesame oil-washed vodka.
In addition to giving the drink a rich, nutty and distinctive flavor, the oil gives the vodka silkiness and salinity, which is enhanced with a dash of salt. It won’t make the drink overtly salty, but will give it a touch of savoriness. That gets balanced with the bright and crisp cucumber ginger syrup, which uses fresh cucumber juice and raw ginger. The Green Eyes ends up being green and garden-fresh but with a subtle nutty silkiness.
Making the sesame oil-washed vodka can be intimidating the first time, but it’s a fairly easy process. Add the oil to the vodka, let it sit for a few days, then pop it in the freezer. The fats from the oil will freeze and you can strain it out. After you’ve made the sesame oil-infused vodka you can use it in other drinks; try your hand at a Dry Martini for a unique twist on the classic or use it in a Negroni for a savory touch. Similarly, the ginger cucumber syrup would go perfectly in your next Gimlet or Tom Collins.
- 2 ounces sesame-infused vodka**
- 3/4 ounce cucumber ginger syrup**
- 1/2 ounce lime juice, freshly squeezed
- 1 dash salt (or 2 squirts of saline solution)
- Garnish: cucumber wheel
Add the sesame-infused vodka, cucumber ginger syrup, lime juice and salt into a shaker with ice and shake until well-chilled.
Double-strain into a chilled coupe glass.
Garnish with a cucumber wheel.
*Sesame-infused vodka: Combine 1/2 cup sesame oil and 3 1/2 cups vodka and shake, then let infuse for 72 hours at room temperature. Place in freezer for 24 hours. Oil will solidify, allowing it to be strained out. Pass through a fine strainer before it thaws.
**Cucumber ginger syrup: Juice 4 cups thinly sliced cucumber and strain. In a medium pot, combine 2 cups thinly sliced ginger, 4 cups sugar and 2 cups water, and bring to a boil. Once it boils, take off burner and let cool to room temperature. Strain out ginger pieces, and mix in cucumber juice. Bottle and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.