Pith Helmet
One cocktail
Adapted from Bitters by Brad Thomas Parsons The author recommends Fever-Tree Bitter Lemon or high-quality tonic water. I used regular tonic water and the drinks were fine, although if you can find either of those, I recommend using them. (They do sell it at La Maison du Whisky, I think. But I took the bus round-trip across town and it was hot and sweaty, and wasn’t especially anxious to go back.) If you can get one of those French carbonated lemonades that isn’t too sweet, it might work nicely and I’ll probably do that next time. If using a regular cucumber, the kind with a lot of seeds, you might want to scrape the seeds out, which can be a bit bitter. Speaking of bitter, if you don’t have the recommended bitters on hand, I wouldn’t fret – I would simply use another bitter in their place. Brad Parsons says to pour the drink into a highball glass, which I don’t have. So I used squat glasses and the drinks were a bit stronger than they would be in a taller glass – but no one complained!
6 black peppercorns
3 cucumber slices
1/2 ounce lemon-basil syrup (see below)
1 ounce gin
1 ounce Pimm’s No. 1 Cup
1/2 ounce fresh lemon juice
2 dashes Angostura bitters
2 dashes celery bitters
Tonic water or Fever-Tree Bitter Lemon (see headnote)
1. Crack the peppercorns in a mortar and pestle, or in a ziptop bag, using a hammer. Put them in a cocktail shaker with the cucumber slices and lemon-basil syrup and muddle until the cucumber slices are completely broken down into a pulp.
2. Fill the shaker halfway up with ice, then add the gin, Pimm’s, lemon juice, and bitters. Shake the mixture until very cold, then pour through a cocktail strainer into a tall glass filled with ice. Top with tonic water or Bitter Lemon, add a cucumber slice and basil leaf as a garnish, and grind a bit of black pepper over the top.

To make the lemon-basil syrup, wash and dry 6 large basil leaves. Put them in a small saucepan with 1/2 cup (100 g) sugar and 1/2 cup (125 ml) water, and add the zest of one lemon (unsprayed). Heat the mixture, pressing the basil with the back of a spoon as you heat the syrup, stirring a bit, to encourage the leaves to release their flavor and the sugar to dissolve. As soon as the syrup just begins to boil, remove from heat and let cool completely. Once cool, strain the syrup into a jar and refrigerate until ready to use. The lemon-basil syrup will keep for up to one month. Makes about 3/4 cup (180 ml.)