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Crisp and Cool

At the Bar


Photograph by Lane Hartwell

Prima Ristorante in Walnut Creek boasts an extraordinary selection of Italian wines. But, did you know that Prima’s bar, thanks to the imaginative touch of a young bartender, offers some of the most innovative, exciting cocktails we’ve ever tried?

Gwyneth Hogarth approaches her craft with cheflike attention, infusing vodka and gin with organic fruit and herbs, sourcing artisan-quality sodas and natural cane-sweetened syrups, and respectfully reinventing classics like the Manhattan—Eagle Rare bourbon, Carpano Antica vermouth, barrel-aged bitters, and Amarena cherries.

Like any good Bay Area chef, she focuses on the integrity of her base ingredients. Case in point: the GBL cocktail, a blend of Boodles gin, Fever Tree Bitter Lemon soda, and lemon bitters. Hogarth says the drink is an homage to her grandmother, who drank gin. “You have to pay attention to the qualities of various gins,” she says. “Some are citrusy, others more herbal—it makes a difference in the cocktail.”

Bring Hogarth’s magic home with this cucumber gimlet:

Prima’s Cucumber Gimlet

1     liter bottle premium vodka
1     English cucumber, peeled, seeded, and chopped
1     strip of each: lemon, orange, and lime zest (use a vegetable peeler)
1     cup sugar
1/2  cup water
        Fresh limes

In a large glass jar, combine vodka, cucumber, and zest. Cover and let infuse for 1–2 days. Strain and chill. Meanwhile, bring sugar and water to a boil in small saucepan to make a syrup. Cool and chill. For each cocktail, put 2 ounces cucumber vodka, 1 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice, and 1/2 ounce (or to taste) sugar syrup into a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake very well, strain into a martini glass, and enjoy.

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