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No more bland water at the table. Photo by
Maria Bacarella | IST.
When warm weather brings a bounty of fresh produce, we want to fresh produce it everywhere—including in our water glass. While any fruit or vegetable can be infused into a glass or pitcher of water, we especially enjoy cucumber and fresh herbs like thyme or rosemary.
The simplest addition of a slice of cucumber and an herb sprig turns a nondescript glass of water into a special drink. You can layer on flavors as you like: a slice of lemon, lime or apple, for example.
HOW TO MAKE CUCUMBER WATER
1. ADD half a cucumber, cut into 1/8″ slices, to a two-quart pitcher. If it’s a waxed cucumber, use a carrot peeler to remove most of the waxy peel before slicing, but leave some decorative “stripes” by peeling the cucumber vertically, leaving long strips of peel at 1″ intervals.
Variation: Look closely at the photo and you’ll note that both slices and strips of cucumber were used. Although it’s easier to eat the slices, the combination of slices and strips adds visual interest.
2. CUT a lemon and/or lime into 1/8″ slices, removing the seeds. Add to the pitcher, along with sprigs of fresh rosemary or other favorite herb.
3. FILL the pitcher with water. Refrigerate for 4 hours or more to chill and let the flavors infuse. When you’ve drunk up all the water, you can refill the pitcher and re-infuse the same cucumber and lemons, although you’ll get a lighter infusion.
Summer also reminds us that it’s time to break out the cucumber vodka. It’s a trending (and welcome) flavor, produced by organic distillers such as Crop Harvest, Prairie, Rain and Square One, as well as conventional brand such as Effen, Pearl and Skinnygirl.
(Note to gin lovers: Gordon’s makes Crisp Cucumber Gin, but you may have to get someone to bring it back from England. We haven’t been able to find it in the U.S.)
To make flavored vodka, natural flavor essence is added to the distilled vodka (which can be made from a variety of grains, including corn, rye and winter wheat). The fresh aroma of cucumber is a result of the same process used to capture the aromatics of flowers and other plants in natural fragrances.
We love what the essence of crisp, cool cucumber does to vodka. Cucumber vodka gives a contemporary spin to familiar cocktails like the Bloody Mary, Gimlet, Tom Collins and Vodka Tonic. We drink Square One cucumber vodka straight up (and our food bucket list includes arranging a taste test with the other brands).
CUCUMBER VODKA COCKTAIL RECIPES
These recipes are courtesy Prairie Organic Spirits.
2 ounces cucumber vodka
2 one-inch cubes seedless watermelon
1 diced lime (bitter ends removed)
1 ounce agave nectar
1 cucumber slice
Cucumber adds a crisp touch to vodka. Photo courtesy SquareOne.
1. LIGHTLY salt the rim of the glass.
2. COMBINE all ingredients in a shaker. Shake with ice and pour into a rock glass over ice. Garnish with a slice of cucumber.
2 ounces cucumber vodka
½ cup tomato juice
Squeeze of fresh lemon
Worcestershire sauce to taste
Hot sauce to taste
1 thick cucumber slice, notched
1. COMBINE vodka, tomato juice, lemon, Worcestershire sauce and hot sauce in a shaker.
2. SHAKE with ice and pour mixture (including ice) into a highball glass. Add cucumber to the rim of glass and serve.
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