This Cucumber Martini with Elderflower Liqueur cocktail just appeals to me with a farm-to-table freshness that balances elegance with rustic appeal. With pureed cucumber coupled with cucumber-infused vodka splashed with elderflower liqueur and freshly squeezed lime, what’s not to like? Floating a garnish of three thinly sliced cucumbers just seals the deal.
I love watching my wife Roxanne peruse a cocktail menu with the same cat-like eye for detail I’ve seen in a shoe store as she channels her inner Carrie Bradshaw. She devours every word—every ingredient—as if she is studying for an exam. Her preferences adhere to a set of rigid guidelines: not too strong, not too sweet, and always refreshing. Furthermore, her decision-making process is predicated on mood coupled with her spirit of adventure. While always predictable with regard to ordering food off the menu, she has been known to deviate from time to time when it comes to spirits. Call it the spirit of experimentation in a cocktail glass.
Me, I’m simple. Barrel-aged bourbon is my usual glass of choice. Oh, I’ve been known to down a top-shelf tequila, an eye-opener Bloody Mary, or an Old Fashioned as the occasion might dictate, but for the most part, I’m straightforward and basic. No cocktail menu for me. I’ll leave the frou-frou, mojo-rita-tinis to my two girls. But, with my wife’s nudging to take a taste, I recently discovered a before-dinner drink that got my juices flowing. It was the Cucumber Martini at Fig and Olive on Melrose Avenue in West Hollywood, California–a perfectly executed cocktail featuring fresh farm-raised cucumbers.
Infused vodkas are all the rage these days, and it didn’t take much looking to find a good one that has a fruit-forward finish that would be just as good straight over ice as an aperitif. The St. Germain took a little more searching. St. Germain is made by the Bacardi brand and is bottled in Europe where it is made from the elderflower, a white, starry flower similar to honeysuckle. According to the company, it is “still produced in an artisanal manner where the liqueur is made from flowers that are gathered from the hillsides in the French Alps during a short four-to-six-week period in spring. The picked flowers are bicycled to a collection depot (yep, bicycled) where they are immediately macerated to preserve the fresh flavors of the bloom.” Not sure I’m buying the bicycle line (sounds like colorful ad copy to me), but there’s no denying the fragrance in the bottle.
In the heat-haze of our Southern summer evenings, give this cool drink a try. If straight-up martini style is not your thing, then serve this drink over ice in a highball glass; either way, I can’t think of a more perfect cocktail.
- 2 large ripe cucumbers
- 4 ounces elderflower liqueur, such as St. Germain
- 2 ounces freshly squeezed lime juice
- 4 jiggers (1 ½ ounces) cucumber-flavored vodka
- With a thin-blade knife (or kitchen mandoline), cut 12 thin round slices of cucumber (with the peel). Cover and refrigerate
- Peel the remaining cucumber and cut into chunks. In the container of a blender, add the cucumber, elderflower liqueur, and lime juice, and blend on high until completely puréed.
- For each drink, add ice to a cocktail shaker along with a jigger of vodka. Add 2 jiggers of the cucumber purée, and shake vigorously. Strain the contents into a chilled martini glass and garnish with 3 cucumber slices. Serve immediately. Repeat for additional cocktails.
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