A Chinese philosopher’s yin and yang, a magnet’s + and -, and a cook’s salty and sweet, rather than separate forces, are complementary. In relationships, we’re often most attracted to people who are dissimilar to us in fundamental ways.
In Chinese medicine, the path to regaining health leads to restoring an imbalance in the body by treating a condition with either something complimentary to boost what’s lacking–or to tame an excess.
Chinese philosophy is not limited to medicine but can be practiced in daily life. You eat foods that are refreshing to your system in the summer to disperse heat and, in the winter, you consume ingredients that ignite a fire in your belly to warm up. Of course, it’s more complicated than simple 1+1, but everything you consume is an important factor to the equation.
A cocktail can embody both a cooling and warming effect in an effort to achieve the perfect balance. Cucumber cools you off while the subtle heat of black pepper raises it.
With this elixir, the earthy scent of cucumber hits right away. Then, as the taste lingers on your palette, you’ll notice the kick of black pepper slowly emerge at the back of your throat.
You might be unsure of that first encounter, so you take another inquisitive sip and, again, the cucumber soothes your throat and you momentarily dismiss the existence of black pepper. Just as you make that conclusion, the heat returns… this time a bit more commanding. You keep up the steady pace of sips and before you’re certain, the glass is empty. It’s time to search for the bartender to make another.
Yield: 1 cocktail
Glassware: Lowball glass or stemless white wine glass
2 oz (60ml) cucumber-black pepper tonic, recipe to follow2 oz (60ml) gin1/2 teaspoon lemon juice, freshly squeezedCucumber slices, for garnish (optional)
Instructions1. Add tonic, gin, and lemon juice to a shaker filled with ice. Cap the shaker and shake vigorously until well combined, allowing the ice to break up and melt slightly, about 20-30 secs.2. Strained into a lowball glass with a few small ice cubes, garnish with cucumber (if using), serve chilled.
Cucumber-Black Pepper Tonic
Yield: 2 cups
1 cup (250 ml) water1 cucumber (about 10 oz/283 g), grated1/4 cup (50 g) granulated sugar2 tablespoons black peppercorn
Instructions1. Place all ingredients in a saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally. Let simmer for just a couple minutes.2. Remove from heat and let steep for 45 minutes or overnight. Strain tonic into a clean container. Refrigerate until ready to use.