Cool as a cucumber lemonade. Photo courtesy Hendricks Gin.
Hendrick’s Gin sent us a cocktail recipe called Cucumber Lemonade. We enjoyed both the drink and the garnish and thought: Why don’t we use more cucumber garnishes?
The Cucumber Lemonade recipe is below, but you can also use a cucumber garnish with:
Citrus sodas: Fresca, 7-Up, Sprite
Savory cocktails: Bloody Mary, Martini
Fruit or vegetable juices and ades
Try adding a cucumber spear to these drinks, and you’ll have a crunchy snack to enjoy with the drink.
RECIPE: HENDRICK’S CUCUMBER LEMONADE
Ingredients For 1 Drink
3 parts Hendrick’s Gin
2 parts fresh squeezed lemon juice
2 parts simple syrup
Garnish: cucumber spear
1. COMBINE the first three ingredients in a tall glass. Add ice.
2. TOP with sparkling water, stir gently and garnish with a cucumber spear or wedge.
You can garnish with any supermarket cucumber, but why not have fun and look for specialty varieties?
Growers define cucumbers in five categories: slicing, pickling, burpless, space savers and specialty.
Slicing cucumbers include the typical supermarket variety: long and straight with thin, non-bitter skins and seeds. They are bred for slicing and eating. The skin of younger cucumbers is tender enough to be eaten. As the fruit* grows, the skins thicken and more seeds develop. If left on the vine too long, the flesh may become bitter.
Pickling cucumbers are shorter and stouter. They are bred to have drier flesh, which allows them to soak up more of the pickling brine.
Burpless cucumbers are slicing cucumbers that have been bred to produce less of the bitter chemical that releases gas in the stomach. They were developed because enough Americans had this sensitivity.
Space saver cucumbers, also called container cucumbers, are bred to create compact vines that fit into small gardens and deck planters.
You know what conventional cucumbers look like. Check farmers markets for specialty varieties like crystal apple cucumbers, lemon cucumbers and the Armenian cucumber, shown here. Photo courtesy Burpee.
Specialty cucumbers are heirloom cucumbers that have less developed disease resistance than modern hybrids, but are appreciated for their different flavors, shapes and/or colors. Long, light green Armenian cucumbers (see photo above) are heavily ribbed—decorative and ornamental—and taste like a melon without the sweetness. Their ribbed shape makes interesting cross-sections when sliced. Lemon cucumbers look like round lemons. White cucumbers Look for them in farmers markets. Crystal Apple cucumbers, heirlooms from New Zealand, have pale green, roundish fruits resembling Granny Smith apples. Suyo Long is a traditional variety from China that delivers burpless, sweet ribbed fruits that can be used for slicing or pickling. Hybrids like Palace King have a ripples of yellow on emerald green skins.
Your homework: Go to the farmers market and look for specialty cucumbers. If you have a garden, check out the options and plan to plant at least one variety next year.
_________________ *Yes, cucumbers, C. sativus, are fruits. They are members of the same binomial genus as cantaloupe, honeydew, Persian and other melons.