Drink Your Cucumbers!
Cucumbers can almost be as polarizing as beets. (Almost.) People tend to either love them or hate them. Cucumbers can taste watery, floral (and slightly bitter, if you eat the skins). For me, I’m neutral — I like their refreshing crunch, but they’re not really nutritious, so I don’t feel the need to make the effort to do much with them. Unfortunately, too, they don’t keep well, so into the compost pile do many go.
If your CSA box or garden is giving you more cucumbers than you can reasonably eat this year, one place where they shine is in drinks. That’s right — drink your cucumbers. Drink them in a Pimm’s Cup, or a Juliet & Romeo, or slice them up to flavor water.
Depending upon where you’ve travelled, Pimm’s Cups either remind you of Great Britain or New Orleans. For me, it’s London, because that’s where I first tried them. Pimm’s No. 1 is a digestive made from gin, quinine, herbs and botanicals, and adds a lovely, reddish hue to a Pimm’s Cup cocktail. It really doesn’t taste like gin, is low in alcohol, and has subtle citrus notes. According to HistoricalFoods.com, an Original Victorian Pimm’s Cup includes sliced cucumber (or a spear, like I do), orange, lemon, and mint with 1 part of Pimm’s No. 1 to 2 parts lemonade. When I make them, I do 1 part Pimm’s to 3 parts of either lemonade, ginger beer, ginger ale, or even Sprite or 7-up. Just fill a Collins glass with ice, put in your citrus & cucumber garnishes, 2 oz. Pimm’s to 6 oz. of “weak”, lightly stir, garnish with mint, and drink. (I also add several drops of Bittercube’s Jamaica No. 2 bitters.)
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Juliet & Romeo
Cucumbers can have a floral taste. Why not harness that feminine quality, and combine it in a drink that includes rosewater? Although it sounds like it would taste and smell like your grandmother’s old buffing powder, the few drops of rosewater and cucumber, along with gin, mint, and lime juice, go down smoothly. Consider this it to be a more elegant margarita.
I was first introduced to this drink many years ago at The Violet Hour. It has since become a much-anticipated seasonal sipper. This recipe is a variation of the one provided by TVH’s Toby Maloney on LTHForum.com (posting as “Alchemist”):
2 oz Beefeater (or maybe Hendrick’s)
.75 oz Fresh Lime Juice
.75 oz Simple Syrup*
3 drops Rose Water*
3 drops Angostura
3 slices Cucumber
3 sprigs Mint
Tiny pinch of salt
Garnish: Mint sprig and 1 drop rose water & 3 drops of Angostura Bitters.
Muddle the cucumber and pinch of salt. Add rest of ingredients. Let sit for 30 seconds (time allowing). Shake. Strain. Slap a sprig of mint leaf between your hands to bring out the flavor, and garnish the drink with the mint sprig, adding 1 drop rose water, and 3 more drops of Angostura on the surface of the drink.
Toby’s note: The pinch of salt is really, really small. It should be muddled with the cuke to bring out its freshness.
* Simple syrup is a 1:1 ratio of sugar dissolved into water. An eyedropper is the best way to administer the rosewater to the drink. (You can buy them at The Container Store.)
If anyone else has any ideas for adding cucumbers to drink, please post! I hear that I will receive several more in today’s CSA box.