Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Recipe: “Cool as a Cuke” Cucumber Liqueur

Bottling summer green

We’ve reached that point in late summer when the ruby-throated hummingbirds are engaged in rapid-fire turf wars around our feeder, and I spend more time than I care to admit watching them hover, dart, dive-bomb, and pursue. We have a handsome male who pauses several times a day at the top of the feeder, finally resting (though always pulsing) on the feeder pole and surveying the yard with slight turns of his bright green head.

There is something captivating about that green, how I associate its particular shade of emerald with this time of year, and over the weekend, I might just have managed to bottle it.
Summer in a jar: "Cool as a Cuke" Cucumber Liqueur in the works
When thinking about the classic summer pairing of cucumbers with the distinct sweetness of dill, I was hungry for something beyond the bite and spice of pickles that captured the refreshing and versatile qualities of this duo. I knew I'd found my weekend project for our Flavorful Pairs series when I discovered a recipe for cucumber liqueur in Andrew Schloss’s Homemade Liqueurs and Infused Spirits, forthcoming from Storey this fall. 

As the recipe indicates, the process requires just a few straightforward steps: combine grated cucumber, dill, gin and salt, and stir (all of which I accomplished in spite of my cat — also a lover of green —  who stood on a kitchen chair and helped himself to a good portion of my dill supply while I was busy grating). On Saturday we will strain the mixture and add simple syrup to the results. We will also happen to have guests in town, so I suspect we’ll sample the goods before they leave and maybe even bottle some up for them to take home.

There's something immensely satisfying about discovering a new way to enjoy favorite seasonal flavors that can be sipped now or months from now. Cucumber’s an easygoing partner: you could pair this liqueur with mint, lime, or watermelon, or follow Andrew Schloss’s recipe for a Cucumber Martini (included below) and just add ice. Or find a lovely empty bottle, fill it with the taste of summer, and give it as a gift. 

Homemade Liqueurs and Infused Spirits might just inspire new ways to make use of your garden's goodness. Look for it in bookstores this fall.

— Emily Spiegelman, Digital Features Editor

Cool as a Cuke

In the world of beverages, refreshment abounds, but not so much in the land of liqueurs. Liqueurs are generally spoken of in terms of flavor impact, mouthfeel, and potency. This liqueur changes that. Like its namesake, it is cool and clean and crisp, a liquid cucumber essence. I’m sure there are tons of cocktails that would benefit from it, but I can’t stop drinking Cucumber Martinis long enough to think of any.

Makes about 1 Quart

1 fifth (750 ml/3¼ cups) Dutch-style gin (80 proof)
4 medium English cucumbers, ends trimmed and coarsely shredded
8 fresh dill sprigs
Pinch of sea salt
¾ cup simple syrup

1. Combine the gin, cucumbers, dill, and salt in a half-gallon jar. Stir to moisten everything.

2. Seal the jar, and put it in a cool, dark cabinet until the liquid smells and tastes strongly of cucumber, about 7 days.

3. Strain the mixture with a mesh strainer into a clean quart jar. Do not push on the solids to extract more liquid.

4. Stir in the simple syrup.

5. Seal, and store in a cool, dark cabinet. Use within 1 year.
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Simple Syrup
This all-purpose simple syrup is employed in the formulas for most liqueurs.

Makes 3 cups

2¼ cups water
2¼ cups granulated cane sugar

Directions: Mix the water and sugar in a small saucepan until the sugar is all moistened. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Stir to make sure the sugar is completely dissolved, then remove from the heat, and let cool. Refrigerate for up to 3 months.

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Cucumber Martini 2
Chilled cocktail glass, cocktail shaker

Ice cubes
3 oz Cool as a Cuke
3 paper-thin cucumber slices

Directions: Fill the shaker with ice. Add the Cool as a Cuke; shake. Wait 1 minute; shake again; strain into the glass. Garnish with cucumber slices.

Excerpted from Homemade Liqueurs and Infused Spirits © 2013 by Andrew Schloss. All rights reserved.
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Want more recipes from Andrew Schloss? Check out Kiwi Lime Soda and Sparkling Watermelon Soda on our blog!

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