Adventures in Booze: Cucumber Martini

Light green martini with cucumber vine in the background

When I first mentioned that I had been drinking cucumber martinis to my coworkers, one of them said to me, “Oh! What brand of cucumber vodka do you use?” Brand of cucumber vodka? I had no idea there was such a thing. I just use cucumbers.

This isn’t a great way to use up the cucumber tsunami you may have from being overenthusiastic with your vine planting, but it’s so good that you just don’t care. This is a recipe that I’ve been making for a while without using things like “measurements” so I apologize for the approximations.

3-4 slices of cucumber (about an inch total), unpeeled. You can use English cucumbers to avoid the seeds or just use what you’ve got on the vine.
4-5 mint leaves. I like the stuff they sell as Mojito mint best. This does create a mint-heavy drink so adjust according to preferences.
1 spoonful of sugar. You know, the smaller table spoon from your tableware set. What are those called anyway? Are they teaspoons?
Juice from half a lime or two spoonfuls.
2 oz vodka or gin

Muddle your cucumber, mint and sugar in a cocktail shaker. And when I say muddle, I mean pulverize that shit. Add lime, spirits and ice, shake and strain into a martini glass.

One thing that can be fussy about making this is that your chunks of cucumber can make it a bit of a pain in the ass to strain. But if you make it enough times, you’ll figure out your technique.

This is a drink that I usually make with a nice vodka because I (repeat after me) don’t like gin. I also like to have the light cucumber and mint tastes to come to the fore over any gin botanicals. That said, it’s pretty damn good with gin too. As with all of the gin containing drinks I’ve mentioned thus far, I use Bulldog because I find it drinkable. It’s a London dry if that helps you decide what to pull out of your liquor cabinet. Enjoy!

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Adventures in Booze: Aronia-infused Vodka, an on-going project

Ah, the aronia-infused vodka project.

Colander full of dark red aronia berries

I don’t think my initial batch of berries was ripe. This is the first year I’ve actually paid attention to this plant as a food source instead of as a bird feeder so I wasn’t quite sure. It turns out that when they get ripe – and the birds start eating them – that they’re pretty much black. They’re also soft, which should have been a clue. Compare the berries below to the berries above.

Black-red berries in a colander

Much darker color! Hindsight, man. However, this just means I’m going to have two batches to sample. The first has been steeping for a few weeks now.

Jar full of berries and red liquid in front of books

Bet you can’t guess who’s books those are.

It’s probably about time to add the sugar to the first batch. I still need to buy vodka for the second batch which have been chilling in the fridge for a bit while I get my act together. More updates soon!

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Adventures in Booze: Pear Ginger Vodka

Glass jar full of sliced ginger and pears, filled with vodka Two bottles of Finished Pear and Ginger Vodka

This project predates my stated inspiration of the Adventures in Booze series, but only by a few days and was informed by my reading. We visited Onegin in NYC in June (warning: Flash heavy restaurant website. *sigh*) at recommendation of our hotel. The food was fantastic. We also decided to start out dinner with some of the house infused vodkas. I had the pear ginger vodka which was just fantastic.

I figured that it was probably something I could do myself at home. The internet agreed with me so I decided to give it a go. You can see my starting point in the first picture above. Basically I took 2 Asian pears, cored and sliced, and a couple of inches of ginger, peeled and sliced, and layered them in a jar. I left the skins on the pears since I figured, like apples, that’s where the most flavor is. Then I topped it all with a mid-range vodka and stuck it in the cupboard. A lot of the recipes I found online also called for adding a crapton of sugar. I left it out because I’m trying to cut down on extra sugar (she says, embarking on an alcohol-based drinking project) and I thought it might make it more versatile without the extra sugar. Also, Jason and I have different sweet levels we like and I wanted something both of us would enjoy.

I let it steep for about a week, maybe 10 days. I stirred it every couple of days to move the browning fruit around and to check the taste. At first the ginger was first and foremost. A bit of a ginger smack to the face. But then it settled down and the pear made itself known.

In the finished product, there’s a nice level of both flavors. Since I didn’t add any sugar, the sweetness is all from the fruit and is nicely light. I find it sweet enough to enjoy by itself over ice and Jason doesn’t find it overly sweet at all. “Pleasantly fruity” he says. I find both flavors to be subtle and I don’t think I’d want to mix it with anything because the tastes that you spend so long coaxing out would get lost.

I think the next time I make this I’m going to try it with different pears. Especially if I can find some really ripe ones, perhaps from a local orchard. I’m not actually sure if we have any around here. Lots of apples and peaches, but no idea on pears. Anyway, I think something riper and more flavorful would be better than the Asian pears I picked up. But it may also have to wait until I have jar space again…

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