Santa Cruz + Cucumber Vodka Tonics (with Tito’s Handmade Vodka)

After winding our way down Highway 17 towards Santa Cruz delving deep into nostalgia with my recently rediscovered (and ridiculously named) playlists from college, we find a precarious parking spot on the side of the road. Picnic basket and towels in hand, we hop out of the car and head down through the woods with Daisy leading the way. She knows this trek by heart.

Through the redwoods, over the train tracks, and down to our secret river spot we go. We hear the rushing of the water before we see it, and Daisy quickens her pace. The drink mixings jostle about in the basket as we cross the river in search of that perfect sun-drenched sandy bank hidden among the trees. It’s a place we used to come to often when we all lived in the same city, but that was three years and a handful of cities and countries ago for me.

The San Lorenzo River will always hold a special place in my heart. It’s where Charlie and I would go for whole afternoons, just the two of us, to swim and lay in the sun and watch Daisy get the zoomies after we toss her in the water. Even on a classic foggy NorCal summer day, it was the place my best friend and I would sit sipping beers and playing countless games of cards.

And what better way to commemorate our return to this magical spot than with a cocktail that signifies not just how much better we are at organizing our adventures, but how much more discerning we’ve become when it comes to alcohol. Alright, I'll cop to one point in my life my vodka was coming out of a plastic bottle. But no longer, rest assured.

So we toast my return to the U.S. with Cucumber Vodka Tonics we crafted right there on the beach, and I swell with gratitude to be back with the people I love so much in my home country. Life is complicated and messy sometimes, but simple moments like this--enjoying a cool drink with my favorite people and my favorite dog by the river--well, that’s what makes it all worth it.

Cucumber Vodka Tonic

Tito’s Handmade Vodka
Tonic Water

Muddle a few slices of cucumber in the bottom of your cup. Pour in one to one-and-a-half shots of vodka (a shot is 1.5 oz). Top with a healthy pour of tonic water and a squeeze of a lime wedge. Stir and enjoy.

As you can see I like to keep my drink recipes easy breezy when I’m on the road. Though I’m sure a mixologist would scoff at the idea of imprecise measurements, you have to be realistic when you’re making cocktails outside of a home environment.

A few more tips for making cocktails on the go. If you’re not traveling with a cooler, keep your vodka in the freezer right up until you hit the road. If you don’t want to bring a muddler with you (or don’t have one), consider pre-muddling or pureeing the cucumbers in a blender ahead of time. Throw it in a tupperware or jar and you’re good to go. You can also pre-slice the limes.

One more thing. For the month of August I, in conjunction with Tito’s Handmade Vodka, will be giving you weekly tips for being on the road with dogs (along with awesome drink recipes!). Tito Beveridge, the creator of the vodka, has a real soft spot for dogs. In fact, his distillery outside Austin has dogs everywhere, many of whom wandered on to the property as strays. The company launched a campaign called Vodka For Dog People several years ago and has done amazing work when it comes to spaying/neutering animals and finding them homes. You can read more about it in one of my previous blog posts.

Dogs on the Road Tip #1

Ticks. They are the worst. And with a fluffy long-haired dog like Daisy, I constantly worry that one of them has crawled on her and I’m just not finding it. Usually when we’re jumping in the car for a weekend away, we’re headed somewhere forested, so I am vigilant about checking her for ticks. To do that, run your hands along your dog’s body, feeling for any bumps. Make sure to feel everywhere, including in the ears and armpits, around the face, and in between the toes. If you find a tick, remove it with tweezers by grabbing as closely to the dog’s skin as possible and pulling outward in a straight motion. It is a good idea to put the tick in jar with a bit of isopropyl alcohol to kill the tick, that way if your dog shows symptoms of a tick-borne illness, you have something to show the vet. Finish the job off by treating the tick-removal area with an antiseptic.

This post was in partnership with Tito’s Handmade Vodka. All opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Seek + Scout!