Food & Drink

Cool summer ‘cuketails’

Clay Pigeon’s “Short drive” cuketail.
Clay Pigeon’s “Short drive” cuketail. Clay Pigeon

Cue the fanfare! Saturday is National Cucumber Day!

While it didn’t get the buzzy buildup of National Doughnut Day last week (we haven’t seen social media pages devoted to lists of markets handing out free cucumbers), there’s no less reason to celebrate this crunchy, culinary vegetable.

I mean fruit.

Whatever.

Let’s pour some drinks, shall we?

Cucumbers are totally cool in cocktails these days. Belly up to any bar worth its margarita salt, and it’ll have a concoction with a few cukes muddled, tossed in and sitting on the rim. Cucumbers are hydrating, their earthiness mellows out spicy flavors, and they’re often a less-sweet alternative to fruit in summer libations.

Cucumber is so trendy, in fact, that it’s the newest infusion to hit the liquor bottle. Cucumber-flavored vodkas, sakes, simple syrups and even sparkling dry sodas are lining the shelves next to past years’ caramel-birthday cake-pumpkin pie-gummy bear versions that — let’s face it — don’t taste nearly as good with floating jalapeños.

So sit back, relax (preferably with cucumber slices on your eyes) and usher in summer with these refreshing seasonal “cuketails.”

Freelance writer Celestina Blok contributed to this story, which contains material from Star-Telegram archives.

Chile cucumber margarita

Makes 1 drink

This refreshing margarita is rimmed with Tajin, a brand of Mexican seasoning made with chile peppers, salt and dehydrated lime juice. “It’s really popular in Mexico,” says Funky Baja’s Cantina owner Gloria Segovia. “You can top off fruit with it, and it completely changes the flavor.” Squeeze some limes, slice some cucumbers and start shaking.

  • 2 ounces silver tequila, such as 1800 Silver
  • 2 ounces triple sec
  • 1/2 ounce fresh lime juice
  • 3/4 ounce Monin cucumber syrup
  • Tajin seasoning salt
  • Cucumber slices for garnish

Combine tequila, triple sec, lime juice and syrup in an ice-filled cocktail shaker. Shake and pour into a margarita glass rimmed with seasoning salt. Garnish with cucumber slices.

Nutritional analysis per serving: 336 calories, trace fat, 24 grams carbohydrates, trace protein, no cholesterol, 119 milligrams sodium, trace dietary fiber, 1 percent of calories from fat.

— Funky Baja’s Cantina, 721 Keller Parkway, Keller, 817-745-1099, http://funkybaja.com

Cucumber mojito pop

Makes six 3-ounce ice pops

This nonalcoholic ice pop is an all-natural frozen treat from Grapevine dessert destination HipPop, owned by husband-and-wife duo Ben Bates and Rosy Gurung. Their ice pops, slushes and shaved-ice selections are made from fresh fruit juice and purees, organic sugar, fresh herbs and filtered water, so we don’t have to worry about fake flavors, dyes or ingredients we can’t pronounce.

  • 10 ounces fresh cucumber juice (see note)
  • 6 ounces simple syrup (HipPop uses equal parts organic cane sugar and filtered water.)
  • 2 ounces fresh lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons mint leaves, chopped

1. Combine all ingredients and chill for two hours to allow mint to infuse throughout.

2. Pour into ice pop molds and freeze.

Note: To make cucumber juice, use fresh, peeled cucumbers in your juicer or puree in a blender and strain.

Nutritional analysis per serving: 42 calories, trace fat, 10 grams carbohydrates, trace protein, no cholesterol, 2 milligrams sodium, trace dietary fiber, 1 percent of calories from fat.

— HipPop, 520 S. Main St., Suite 205, Grapevine, 817-527-4383, http://hippoptx.com

Warrior breeze

Makes 1 drink

  • 1 slice fresh watermelon, plus 1 small piece for garnish
  • 2 ounces TY KU Cucumber Sake, chilled

1. Muddle the watermelon in a stemless wineglass and add ice.

2. Pour chilled sake over the watermelon and garnish with additional watermelon piece, if desired.

Nutritional analysis per serving: 88 calories, trace fat, 6 grams carbohydrates, 1 gram protein, no cholesterol, 2 milligrams sodium, trace dietary fiber, 2 percent of calories from fat.

— TY KU Premium Sake & Spirits

Cucumber-cran splash

Makes 1 drink

  • 1 1/2 ounces Pinnacle Cucumber Vodka
  • 1 1/2 ounces sweet and sour mix
  • Splash of cranberry juice, to taste

Pour all ingredients over ice. Stir in a highball glass and garnish with lime.

Nutritional analysis per serving: 123 calories, trace fat, 6 grams carbohydrates, no protein, trace cholesterol, 5 milligrams sodium, trace dietary fiber, 1 percent of calories from fat.

— Pinnacle Vodka

The short drive

Makes 1 drink

“This is a great twist on a classic combination of gin and tonic and a refreshing choice for the warmer months,” says Peter Kreidler, sous-chef at Clay Pigeon Food and Drink, who created this cocktail. “The ingredients complement one another well and add a nice quenching element with the sweet, fresh and tart flavors. I especially love the elderflower tonic; it’s a perfect way to give the drink a dash of sweetness and fizz.”

  • 1 1/2 ounces Gompers Gin
  • 3/4 ounce fresh lime juice
  • 3/4 ounce simple syrup
  • 1 ounce cucumber juice (see note)
  • Fever Tree Elderflower Tonic, to taste

1. Place ice in a Tom Collins glass. Add all ingredients except tonic and stir.

2. Finish with Fever Tree Elderflower Tonic. Garnish with cucumber round.

Note: To make cucumber juice, use fresh, peeled cucumbers in your juicer or puree in a blender and strain.

Nutritional analysis per serving: 155 calories, trace fat, 12 grams carbohydrates, trace protein, no cholesterol, 3 milligrams sodium, trace dietary fiber, 1 percent of calories from fat.

— Clay Pigeon Food and Drink, 2731 White Settlement Road, Fort Worth, 817-882-8065, www.claypigeonfd.com

Jalapeño margarita

Makes 1 drink

Some years back, in an “Iron Chef America” battle, Fort Worth celebrity-chef-restaurateur Tim Love wanted to wet the judges’ whistle as they tucked into his split buffalo femur bone marrow festooned with roasted chiles. Love’s spin on the traditional margarita involved muddling a fiery jalapeño pepper with sugar and cooling cucumber, all to keep the drink from getting combustible. Love’s take on the resulting cocktail: “It’s like Texas — spicy hot, yet refreshing.” It’s popular on the menu at his Woodshed and Love Shack restaurants in Fort Worth.

  • 1 slice jalapeño pepper, plus 1 for garnish
  • Three 1/8-inch slices of cucumber, plus 1 for garnish
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 ounces Hornitos tequila
  • 4 ounces freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1 ounce Cointreau
  • 1 ounce Sprite
  • Lime wedge, for garnish

1. Muddle jalapeño slice and 3 cucumber slices with sugar. Add tequila, lime juice, Cointreau and Sprite.

2. Add ice and shake well, then pour into a highball glass with a salted rim. (To salt the rim, rub a lime piece on the outside rim of the glass, then dip the rim into a saucer of kosher salt.) Garnish with jalapeño slice, cucumber slice and lime wedge.

Nutritional analysis per serving: 312 calories, trace fat, 34 grams carbohydrates, 1 gram protein, no cholesterol, 5 milligrams sodium, 1 gram dietary fiber, 1 percent of calories from fat.

— Chef Tim Love

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