I feel like the cucumber gets a bad rap. It’s often cast aside as a lesser vegetable, relegated to average garden salads or bad California rolls; they get no respect. These green tubes are packed with nutrients and flavour. All they need is a little love and they can bring a brightness to most dishes and cocktails. Let the cucumber be the star of your next cocktail party and you won’t regret it.
Cucumbers add a refreshing twist to almost any classic cocktail. Everyone will be impressed when you break out a cucumber Tom Collins or cucumber vodka soda. Be warned because you will be making these for everyone once the word gets out; they are that addictive.
Facts about the cucumber:
1. They are great for you.
2. They make your drink green (awesome!)
3. They are bright, fresh, and delicious.
You don’t want to be the person promoting a green, bright, fresh, delicious, and slightly less unhealthy cocktail? Be that person; you’ll be a hero. Here’s how it’s done:
The first step is transforming our solid cucumber into a liquid. Lucky for us, the humble cucumber is 95% water which makes it ideal for juicing, smashing, muddling, and crushing.
Option 1: The Juicer
If you are lucky enough to own a juicer, look no further. Any of the major brands will quickly transform a few cucumbers into sweet, sweet cucumber juice. All you need to do is clean your cucumber and throw it in. Don’t you dare take the skin off though, that’s chock full of flavor, nutrients, and colour.
Option 2: The Blender
If, like the majority of people, you haven’t found a good enough reason to splurge on a juicer (I’m pretty sure I just gave you one.), don’t worry. I only recently made the plunge into juicing and have been enjoying the refreshing taste of cucumbers in my cocktail for quite some time. All you need to make a juice that is slightly less pure, but equally as delicious, is a blender.
Step 1: Start by cleaning your cucumber.
Step 2: Dice your cucumber. The size of your dice should be based on the type of blender you have. If you have a Vitamix, Blendtec, or any other high end blender, you don’t really need to worry, a rough chop will do it. If you’re trying to Macgyver this with a Magic Bullet, you might want to dice the cucumber up pretty finely to help it out.
Step 3: Throw your cucumber into the blender and add about ¼ cup of water. Buzz it. Continue to add water as needed, it shouldn’t take much.
Note: If you’re afraid you are diluting the cucumber juice down too much, replace the water with simple syrup. If you’re anything like me, most of the cocktails you create are going to call for some anyway.
Step 4: Strain through a fine mesh sieve. This is an important step. You want this to be as silky smooth as possible. You may need to give the juice a little help going through the sieve. If so, just give it a little push with a wooden spoon.
Step 5: Store the juice. I like to use a small squeeze bottle, as it makes whipping up cocktails a breeze. Cucumber juice will keep for up to a week in the fridge.
Option 3: The Muddler
What happens if you don’t have a juicer or a blender? Well, don’t worry. There are other ways to harness that taste. All you need is a muddler and some elbow grease. Slice up a cucumber, throw in a cocktail shaker and muddle your little heart away. This should give you the desired result albeit slightly less refined (and less cool). This method really shines when you need to quickly throw together a couple of cocktails in a pinch and don’t want to break out the heavy machinery. The major drawback is that it will really tie you up behind the bar if you are entertaining a crowd. Once you make one cucumber cocktail, everyone wants one… they are that delicious. So beware.
At this point you’ve harnessed the power of the cucumber in it’s purest form. The options are endless. The beauty of the cucumber is that it pairs so well with a wide variety of ingredients. Personally, I find that it shines brightest when accompanied with herbs and citrus.
Here are a couple of my favorites:
Cucumber Gin Fizz
I would consider this my baseline cucumber cocktail. Consider it a blank canvas.
¼ oz lime juice
½ oz cucumber juice
¾ oz simple syrup
1 ½ oz Gin
Club soda to taste
Add all ingredients, besides club soda, into a shaker. Shake and strain into a short glass with or without ice. Add club soda to taste. Garnish with any combination of lime twist, lime slice, or cucumber slice.
Note: I often add whatever herb I have lying around into this cocktail. Any of the following would be delicious: Mint, cilantro, basil, tarragon, or parsley.
Mint Cucumber Cooler
Simply delicious. The combination of mint and cucumber is intoxicating… Literally, these are so delicious, plan to end up intoxicated.
1 oz lime juice
½ oz simple syrup
1 ½ oz cucumber juice
1 ½ oz vodka
1 oz Cointreau
First add mint and bruise the leaves with a muddler to release the oils. Add all remaining ingredients, besides club soda, into a shaker. Shake vigorously and strain into a tall glass with ice. Garnish with a lime wedge and a sprig of mint.
This is a delicious cocktail and people really like saying the name.
1 ½ oz Gin
¾ oz St. Germain elderflower liqueur
¼ oz lime juice
¼ oz simple syrup
2 dashes FMMS Orange Bitters
Add all ingredients into a shaker. Shake and strain into a martini glass. Garnish with a slice of cucumber.
Like I said, the possibilities are endless. Let your imagination run wild… If you invent something delicious, make sure to let me know in the comments or on Twitter.