If necessity is The Mother of Invention, then it would seem that capitalism is The Father 0f Superfluity. How many skin care lines or podcasts or artisanal gins the world needs is, I suppose, subjective and debatable, but I feel comfortable saying that the dominating motivators of invention in the modern world are fabricating problems (to sell a solution for), offering a cheaper (or more expensive) alternative to something that already exists, or creating your own version of something, because why not?
Why deprive the world of your barbecue sauce recipe when you can bottle it and sell it? Why not sell crocheted “Live, Laugh, Love” coasters on Etsy? There is no niche too niche to be niched! Nestled in the center of the venn diagram of Mother Invention and Father Capitalism is creativity, and creativity cannot be subjected to moralizing—it is a chaotic, neutral force, fundamental to existence, capable of generating horror, awe, and everything in between, all in equal measure. And so whilst on this train of thought, I want to talk to you about cucumber gimlets. And hopefully convince you to make one.
Most of you are probably familiar with the gimlet: gin and lime juice. How much gin, how much lime juice, what kind of gin, and what kind of lime juice–these are variables for your own deduction but most famously, and historically, the gimlet specifies Rose’s lime juice and navy strength gin (a modern-day marketing term to denote 57%+ alcohol proof) in equal portions. At some point, the navy strength gin gave way to regular gin, the gin was upped, and fresh lime juice and sugar deemed acceptable (if not superior) replacements for Rose’s.
But within that delicious coupling is something even more refreshing than the beverage itself: a beautiful example of necessity birthing invention.
You’re a sailor in the 18th century, and scurvy (the problem) is a real bummer that you need to be able to cure (the necessity). Luckily, you know that vitamin C will do the trick, but unfortunately, citrus doesn’t keep as long as you need it to (problem) so you need to find a way to preserve it (necessity). Eventually you figure out that limes are the most stable, and will keep longer when mixed with a little bit of rum. Unfortunately, it’s not enough rum to make the lime-juice-medicine palatable for your shipmates (problem/necessity, you get the idea by now). They’re sailors for chrissakes, scurvy be damned—so you mix it with overproof gin, and everyone is happy, or at least scurvy-free. Eventually, a ship chandler from Leith figures out that preserving lime juice with sugar is even better, and he patents his juice concentrate, called Rose’s lime juice. And so, A Gimlet Is Born.
The cucumber gimlet I made myself last night was not exactly as involved or life-saving as the OG, but it did help me solve the problem of using up the last bit of a cucumber languishing in the fridge and the necessity I had for a drink. It’s exactly the kind of cocktail I love–simple classic transformed by the addition of one accessible ingredient. As heavenly as it is, I have no desire to bottle and sell my own, so I encourage you to give yourself the pleasure of making one at home
4 thin slices of cucumber
2 ounces gin
1 ounce fresh lime juice
¾ ounce simple
Place cucumber slices in tin and muddle (optional, if the slices are thin enough). Add the rest of the ingredients to your shaker, fill with ice and shake vigorously for 12-16 seconds. Strain into a chilled coupe, and garnish with a cucumber slice (also optional, but very pretty).