No more bland water at the table (photo © Maria Bacarella | iStock Photo).
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.
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.
Check out the cucumber cocktail recipes below.
National Cucumber Day is June 14th. National Cocktail Day is March 24th.
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 brands 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).
These recipes are courtesy Prairie Organic Spirits.
RECIPE #1: GARDEN COCKTAIL
1. LIGHTLY salt the rim of the glass.
 Cucumber adds a crisp touch to vodka (photo © Square One Organic Spirits).
RECIPE #2: CUCUMBER MARY
1. COMBINE vodka, tomato juice, lemon, Worcestershire sauce, and hot sauce in a shaker.
2. SHAKE with ice and pour the mixture (including ice) into a highball glass. Add cucumber to the rim of the glass and serve.