CUCUMBER, MINT AND BASIL SODA

(Based on a drink served at Seattle’s “Spur” restaurant.)

1 1/2 cups Simple Syrup (see recipe below)
1/2 large cucumber, thinly sliced crosswise, plus 12 slices for garnish
24 fresh mint leaves plus 12 sprigs for garnish
12 fresh basil leaves
6 cups soda water, divided

Bring 1/1/2 cups simple syrup to a boil in small sauce pan.  Remove from heat and add cucumber slices, mint and basil.  Cover and let steep for 30 minutes.  Strain syrup into a jar, pressing on solids in strainer.  Fill a 12 oz. glass with ice cubes.  Add 2 T. syrup and top with soda water (about 1/2 cup).  Stir to combine.  Garnish with cucumber slice and a sprig of mint.  Repeat to make 11 more sodas.

Simple Syrup
(Makes 1 1/2 cups)
Heat 1 cup sugar and 1 cup water in a small sauce pan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until sugar is dissolved.  Remove pan from heat, let cool, and transfer to a jar.  Cover and store in refrigerator for up to 1 month.

(From Bon Appetit, May 2011.)