If you’ve ever been to a day spa, you may have noticed a large dispenser of ice water with slices of cucumber floating on top.
Fancy right? Around 2000, bartenders took note of this and started using cucumbers in cocktails. Either infused or muddled, cucumbers lend a dry, crisp vegetal note that counterbalances overly sweet drinks. That makes it perfect when it’s hot outside and also pairs better with what’s on your barbecue plate.
The Brits have been doing this going on two hundred years; their beloved Pimm’s Cup No. 1 pairs cucumber and citrus with the peculiar tasting herbal gin liqueur of the same name. The drink has since gone on to become a standard every Wimbledon fortnight. In fact, when muddled with virtually any citrus, cucumber can transform a gimlet, a classic gin and tonic or even a margarita. One of my favorite margarita recipes pairs muddled cucumber and jalapeño with fresh lime or lemon juice and just enough simple syrup round out the spice and tartness.
Since gin and tonic season is in full bloom — you may be drinking one right now — why not muddle a bit of cucumber before building your drink. Or ratchet it up a few levels and juice some cucumbers (assuming you have a juicer) to create this nifty little number, crafted by Capitol Bar’s chef and bartender Ryan Hembree.
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Kevin Hopper spends his summer days mixing and muddling at the air-conditioned Capitol Bar, where it’s “cool as a ___________.”
L’Eté Vert (“Green Summer”)
2 oz. Prairie organic gin (or similarly premium gin)
1 oz. fresh Cucumber juice
.5 oz. Rosemary simple syrup (recipe follows)
Cucumber spear garnish and/or lime wedge
In an old-fashioned glass filled with ice, pour gin, cucumber juice, lime juice and rosemary simple syrup. Top with tonic water. Garnish with a fresh cucumber spear and watch the day disappear.
Rosemary simple syrup: Combine 1 cup of sugar, one cup of water and 3 sprigs of rosemary in a medium saucepan. Boil until sugar is dissolved and let cool. Can keep in fridge for up to one month.