Cucumber has a reputation for being strictly a salad item. We visualize it dripping in ranch dressing amongst a few croutons. The experienced cocktail crafter and beverage foodie knows better – cucumber cocktails are divine.
Technically a fruit, the cucumber has a cool flavor with an undertone of sweetness that is refreshing without being overpowering. For the mixologist, it serves as unique base that works as a flavor blender and a bridge between stronger flavors like mint or melon. Even the bold taste of basil or pepper softens with a slice of cucumber.
This fruit is poreous and holds a lot of water; when exposed to alcohol, the cucumber cells open and quickly perform a flavor exchange – a tasty osmosis effect! Consider adding a slice or two of cucumber to broaden the flavor profile of sangrias or martinis. This does more than garnish a drink; it opens the door to more creative combinations.
Most people will scrape the rind with a fork or remove the rind all together to discourage the bitter taste of the outer covering; this is not always necessary. For cocktails that are savored for their tart astringency like Manhattans, the rind complements the bitters and can be substituted for the orange peel. And cucumber can especially enhance the botanical notes of gin.
Cucumbers can be muddled with sugar before serving, as one would do with a mojito. Or add thin slices to a shaker before straining, as one would do with gin coolers or add as a garnish as one would do with champagne sparkler.
However you add your cucumber to your summer drinks, do not forget to add an edge of rimming salt to the side of the glass. Combining cucumber and salt is an old trick but in a cocktail, it brings out the sublime character of the beverage thus traversing the gap between the novice and the master mixologist.
2 ounces rokz ginger cardamom infused gin (or vodka)
1 oz lime juice
3/4 oz simple syrup
4 thins slices of jalapeno, no seeds
A small bunch of cilantro
3 or 4 slices of cucumber
Garnish: citrus jalapeno salt rim, slice of cucumber and jalapeno floats, cilantro sprig
Infuse your favorite gin (or vodka) with rokz ginger cardamom infusion. Add cucumber, jalapeno, and cilantro to a shaker and muddle well. Then add the infused spirit, lime juice and simple syrup. Add ice and shake until well chilled, about 20 seconds. Rim a glass with rokz citrus jalapeno salt and strain over a couple of large ice cubes.
Cucumber Ginger Sangria
2 lemons, washed and sliced
3 limes, washed and sliced
1 large green cucumber, sliced
1 cup fresh mint leaves, washed and patted dry
1 cup fresh basil leaves, washed and patted dry
1 750ml bottle dry white wine infused with rokz Ginger Cardamom Infusion kit
2 cups sparkling water
2 cups ice
Infuse your favorite dry white wine with rokz Ginger Cardamom Infusion kit. Combine the sliced lemons, limes, cucumber, mint, and basil in a large pitcher. Use a wooden spoon to muddle slightly to release some of the juices and natural herb oils. Pour in the wine. Stir and chill about 20 minutes, letting the flavors meld. Stir again, then add ice and top off with sparkling water. Serve immediately.