Picture yourself in a backyard garden. There’s a row of cucumbers, a row of hot peppers. Maybe a lemon or lime tree if you’re feeling fancy. Lemongrass stalks … OK, maybe that’s a bit overboard. But that tilled patch of soil is the inspiration for the Garden Variety cocktail from State Fare Kitchen & Bar in Houston. The drink has become a staple on beverage director Laurie Harvey’s menus since she created it a few years back, and she often serves it to many of her patrons as an introduction to spicy drinks. That heat comes from chile-infused vodka but is balanced by the earthiness of a house-made cordial, complete with lemongrass, cucumber, and ginger. A perfect cocktail to sip while tending that garden.
Add 1½ ounces Thai-chile-infused Deep Eddy Vodka,* 1 ounce lemongrass cordial,** ¾ ounce fresh lemon juice, and ¾ ounce fresh lime juice to an ice-filled shaker. Shake to combine, and then strain into a Collins glass with crushed ice. Top with a splash of club soda, and garnish with a lemongrass stalk, lime wheel, and Thai chile.
*Add 6 to 8 sliced Thai chiles to 1 liter vodka. Let sit for up to 24 hours, depending on preferred spice level. Strain out peppers and use.
**Bring 1 cup water to a soft boil, and then stir in 2 cups sugar until dissolved. Add 5 cleaned and pounded lemongrass stalks, the skin of 2 English cucumbers, and 2 ounces skin-on ginger (cut into slices). Let gently boil for 5 minutes, and then remove from heat. Let steep for 2 to 4 hours. Strain and use.