We had people over for Christmas lunch today and I felt like mixing a drink for a friend. Noting the presence of cucumber and lime in the fridge, I decided to make a rare favourite treat; the Juliet and Romeo, a complex but very approachable cocktail created by Toby Maloney of The Violet Hour in Chicago. The drink, with its friendly yet exotic combination of lime, mint, cucumber and rosewater, has gained a happy following on the eGullet forums, where Toby gladly shares his bar’s recipes on request (mad props to the man for his generosity and skill).
Though sublime, this isn’t a drink I prepare regularly as the recipe is quite complex and I don’t always have cucumber around- but the effort in prepaation will be the last thing on your mind once you take the first sip. Here’s the recipe as Toby wrote it:
Juliet & Romeo
Muddle cucumber and pinch of salt. Slap the mint. Add rest of ingredients. Let sit for 30 seconds (time allowing). Shake. Strain. Garnish with 1 floating mint leaf and 1 drop rose water on top of leaf, and 3-5 more drops of angostura on the surface of the drink.
Notes: Take care to use DROPS not DASHES of Angostura in this drink. You may perhaps want to use fewer drops than Toby recommends, as to my knowledge bitters at his bar are dispensed from eyedropper bottles and the Angostura dasher top kind of tends to accumulate the bitters into larger drops. 2 drops from the bottle are probably enough on the surface .
Also, take care to remove the skin from the cucumber before muddling, and note that the flavour profile of the drink changes dramatically depending on the amount of cucumber you use (not to mention the amount of mint). The skin can add an undesirable vegetal bitterness to the drink. Once the peel is removed, it would be wise to muddle the cucumber as hard as possible.
I know rose water smells nice, but don’t go overboard with the drop on the leaf, lest you risk overpowering the nose with its perfumed aroma.
Finally, due to cucumber solids and the overall ‘delicate’ direction of the drink, this is obviously something you want to double strain (i.e through both whatever you use on your shaker + a tea strainer).
So, how does it taste? Divine. For a pretty stiff drink, there’s a noticable smoothness/lack of burn in the mouthfeel which I put down to the cucumber; this, combined with way trendy flavours are utilised to form a full and complex flavour spectrum make this a great gateway to fine drinking.
So now I had half a lime left over.
If you wish, run a lime slice across half the circumference of a cocktail glass’s lip and sprinkle the wet edge lightly with salt on the outside. Shake all ingredients and strain into the chilled/prepared glass. Garnish with lime, or not.
I’ll admit this is probably the first good Margarita I’ve made at home- and it is SO good. Oh boy. I’ve experimented with the popular 3:2:1 before but that never hit the spot- the Cointreau dominated and the diminished quantity of lime wasn’t enough to bring out the flavour of the tequila. But this… magnificent.