Improved Cucumber Martinis

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One of the finest cocktails that we have ever come across is the cucumber martini, a cocktail which– correctly executed–can be a bracingly refreshing blast of intense cucumber flavor, highlighting what is perhaps an under-appreciated member of the melon family.

Unfortunately, cucumber martinis often fail to live up to their potential, ending up as watery infusions that might be mistaken for scented mineral water. And that’s an injustice.

To set the record straight, here is how to make your own thoroughly-awesome cucumber martini. To go one step further, we present three distinct variations: the Sweet Vodka Cucumber Martini, the gin-based Savory Cucumber Martini, and the non-alcoholic Cucumber Fizzy.

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EQUIPMENT

As these are martinis, you’ll need a cocktail shaker, martini glasses, and ice. You’ll also need a food processor (or a good chef’s knife and skill with it) and a length of cheesecloth for straining the cucumbers.

(Need cheesecloth? We’ve found this one to be satisfactory with a reasonably dense weave, making it stronger than many others.)

PREPARING INGREDIENTS

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Cucumber juice

Rather than using an infused alcohol, this set of recipes uses juice from the non-watery part of the cucumber itself. That leads to a more intense, natural flavor, and also permits a virgin fork of our cocktail.

For 1-2 cocktails, begin with 2-3 small cucumbers, preferably persian or japanese. Peel them if the skins are waxed.

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Slice the cucumbers in half and scoop out the seeds with a spoon.

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Chop the cucumbers very finely– a food processor is nice for this bit. Cut the halves into sticks and feed them through the slicer before switching to the chopping blade. The bits should be slightly smaller than those in pickle relish, but do not go so far as to puree them.

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Gather the finely chopped cucumber into a double layer of cheesecloth and squeeze the juice out into a bowl or measuring cup. Twist the top of the cheesecloth to tighten even further.

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When it seems mostly dry, untwist a bit and fluff the pulp in the cheesecloth around and then squeeze some more to get as much juice out as possible. The remaining cucumber pulp should be dry to the touch, when you are done. (Save the pulp for the bonus recipe below.)

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2-3 small cucumbers typically yield about 4 oz of intense cucumber juice, using this process.

Bonus recipe: Quick Tzatziki–Because, you’ve already done the hard part!

Reconstitute the leftover cucumber pulp with lemon juice. Mix with a twice-as-large volume of strained (“Greek”) yogurt. Crush in one small clove of garlic per 2 cucumbers used. Add more garlic, mint, dill, and black pepper to taste. Garnish with olive oil.

 

Simple Syrup

For the sweet cocktails, we use simple syrup rather than sugar directly. To prepare, mix 1/4 cup sugar into 1/4 cup hot water, stir until dissolved, and allow to cool. (Hot water from the tap is normally hot enough to dissolve sugar in these proportions.)

 

THE RECIPES

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Sweet Vodka Cucumber Martini

  • 1 oz cucumber juice
    prepared according to directions above
  • 1 oz simple syrup
    prepared according to directions above
  • 2 oz high-quality vodka
    We recommend Luksusova or Monopolowa
  • 1/2 tsp lemon juice (or to taste)

Combine ingredients with ice in a cocktail shaker, strain, and serve in a martini glass, optionally rimmed with sugar. Suggested garnish: ultra-thin cucumber slices.

 

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Savory Cucumber Martini

  • 2 oz cucumber juice
    prepared according to directions above
  • 2 oz high-quality gin
    We recommend Hendrick’s

Combine ingredients with ice in a cocktail shaker, strain, and serve in a martini glass. Suggested garnish: a skewer of olive-sized cucumber chunks.

This is a simple recipe, but a delicate balance; take care to measure. With a factor of two in proportions either way, either the cucumber does not shine through, or the flavors in the gin do not. Similarly, we found the slightest bit of lemon or sugar to throw off the balance.

 

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Cucumber Fizzy (non-alcoholic)

  • 1 oz cucumber juice
    prepared according to directions above
  • 1 oz simple syrup
    prepared according to directions above
  • 2 oz club soda
  • 1/2 tsp lemon juice (or to taste)

Combine ingredients with ice in a cocktail shaker, strain, and serve in a sugar-rimmed martini glass. Suggested garnish: thin cucumber slices.

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9 thoughts on “Improved Cucumber Martinis

  1. I don’t know how that recipe from Tzatziki is spread throughout the world, but I assure you, you will not find Tzatziki with mint anywhere in Greece. Dill & black pepper is rare as well.

    Tzatziki is greek yoghurt, cucumber, garlic, olive oil and a splash of vinegar and salt. Proportions give different results – try whatever you like most. Of course, you can add whatever you fancy like dill & carrot. Mint, though, is completely unheard of in Greece.

    • You will notice that those ingredients (mint, dill, and black pepper) are not called out except "to taste," which can include none at all (although they are common here, in different variations). So it sounds like our recipe is compatible with yours.


      Windell H. Oskay
      drwho(at)evilmadscientist.com
      http://www.evilmadscientist.com/

  2. I’m going to have to try your gin variation. I typically use a bit of lime juice to brighten the cucumber, but that would push it from a martini to a gimlet.

  3. What kind of cucumbers are these persian/japanese cucumbers? Is the peel bitter and is that part of the taste? I know that the normal american varieties of cucumber have an extremely bitter peel, but in Europe most cucuber varieties have mild peels. (good to keep in mind when using overseas recipes)

  4. Outstanding Recipe! My girlfriends absolutely loved it!
    I’m doing my best to perfect my Bartending recipe book…

    Thanks for the post!

    J.E.

  5. Thank You for advert of polish vodka, but best one, and best in the world is belvedere. Na zdrowie! :)

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