cucumber vodka and elderflower fizz
Once upon my I-vehemently-disagree-with-everything-my-mom-says -and-does teenage years, I thought I found a message from a kindred spirit in “Break Stuff,” a song Fred Durst of Limp Bizkit had channeled all his short man syndrome anger into.
About half my lifetime later, I am fortunate to have a wonderfully close relationship with my mother. But this week, a particularly trying set of phone and email negotiations with a very conflict- (rather than compromise-) oriented outside attorney made “one of those days” turn into one of those weeks.
By the time Wednesday rolled around, I was ready for a Friday night cocktail, but instead, I found serenity in preparing a vodka infusion that I could look forward to enjoying come Friday.
With a couple baby cucumbers still sitting around after the Fourth of July weekend’s pasta salad (and three full bottles of vodka leftover from a recent weekend getaway with college friends, where it became clear that none of us can handle quite as many cocktails as we used to), a cucumber infused vodka recipe on Shutterbean caught my eye.
Seeding the cucumbers seemed simple enough, but I have the worst peeler on the face of the planet. Having a surplus of vodka and cucumbers, I wanted to test whether I could skip that pesky peeling step. And it worked. (Disclaimer: do NOT skip that step if using the wax-coated cucumbers, as your vodka will taste, well, like waxy cucumber.)
Just 2.5 days later, the vodka had assumed the pleasant, mildly sweet flavor of cucumbers, as well as a summery, light green tint from the colorful cucumber peels. And it wasn’t a bit bitter. In fact, I enjoyed my first sips of cucumber vodka on the rocks – and I’m generally not an on-the-rocks vodka drinker.
But I wanted to spruce things up a bit when my friend Kelsey came over, as we were trying our best to enjoy the uncommonly hot and sunny last two hours of San Francisco daylight by pretending to be ladies of leisure. Inspired by Tracy’s comparison of cucumber vodka to adult spa water, I started with one of my favorite simple cocktails: vodka with club soda. Then I added some St. Germain elderflower liqueur to infuse the refreshing cucumber-flavored, bubbly drink with a summery floral essence.
And that is how the cucumber vodka met its end. Time for another batch!
Cucumber Vodka and Elderflower Fizz
1.5 oz. Cucumber-Infused Vodka (recipe below)
1/2 oz. St. Germain elderflower liqueur
3-4 oz. club soda
Shake or stir cucumber vodka and elderflower liqueur with 3 ice cubes until liquor is very chilled. Strain out the remaining ice cubes, and pour chilled liquor into a champagne glass. Top with club soda. Garnish with a slice of cucumber or an elderflower blossom if you want to be fancy.
Infusing vodka is the perfect recipe for the lazy (wo)man who wants a fancier, more delicious cocktail without too much fuss. The only thing remotely fussy about it is remembering to shove the cucumbers into the vodka bottle a few days in advance so there’s adequate time for the flavor infusion to occur.
Rather than go through the process of seeding and peeling a cucumber, I wanted to see if I could get away with skipping the peeling part (a) because I’m lazy and (b) because I hate wasting peels unnecessarily. Please note that skipping the peeling process for this recipe requires picking up an English cucumber, rather than the wax-covered variety that’s often cheaper at the store. I would recommend going a step or two further and picking up organic baby English cucumbers, as they have a delightful, slightly sweeter natural flavor. I scored a bag at Costco, but also saw some at the farmers market today. Happy drinking!
750 ml vodka
3 baby English cucumbers (or one large regular English cucumber)
Make and consume a vodka tonic or two to make space in the bottle for the cucumbers.
Halve cucumbers lengthwise, and use a spoon to scoop out the seeds.
If using a full-grown cucumber (or one of those wax-covered ones), remove and discard the peel. If using baby cucumbers with no wax coating (available at farmers markets and Costco!), you can skip this step.
Chop cucumbers into pieces small enough to fit into the vodka bottle. Add cucumber pieces to the bottle, ensuring that all pieces are completely covered by vodka. Screw the lid back onto the vodka bottle so that everything is air tight.
Agitate the bottle once or twice a day for a minimum of 2 days or up to a week or two, ensuring the cucumbers remain covered by vodka. Strain cucumber pieces out of the vodka. Once strained, cucumber-infused vodka will last as long as the regular stuff would, unless you share it with friends (in which case it will disappear much faster than regular vodka ever does).
Or store it in the freezer – delicious cucumber ice will form. Shake the frozen vodka a few times to disperse the ice, and enjoy cucumber vodka on the rocks.