The Friday Tipple: Salted Cucumber Pimm’s

Salted Cucumber Pimm's

Summer is still in the air, Boozers. While we are mentally ready to move on to the snap of an autumn chill, we heard otherwise this week from Baltimore Bill, the Punxsutawney Phil of Maryland; apparently our little blue crab friend scuttled his way toward a prediction of a warm fall and, we have to admit, he seems to be right so far. If that is the case, then we decided we may as well pull the Pimm’s out of storage.

We’ve noticed two items in great supply at the farmer’s market: cucumbers and apples. Cucumbers are often used as a garnish for a summery Pimm’s Cup, so it seemed logical that a cucumber juice could make a charming base for an autumn Pimm’s, particularly when just touched with a bit of apple. Before you grumble to yourself, “But I have no fancy juicer with which to make juice”, let us assure you that a simple blender will do the trick. Reminiscent of a fall day at the beach, the Salted Cucumber Pimm’s is best enjoyed while wearing a cardigan and a pair of shorts — a happy medium until that cold snap finally arrives.

Salted Cucumber Pimm’s

The concept for this libation is actually based on a classic Gimlet, which, in its simplest form, is nothing more than lime juice and gin or vodka. Our salted cucumber juice is slightly more complex in flavor, providing layers of contrasting flavors highlighting this in-between season. Because Pimm’s is a gin-based liqueur, we like to mix our version with a bright herbaceous gin like Catoctin Creek Watershed Gin, but it also tastes marvelous with vodka, especially Core Vodka, which is distilled from apples.

2 ounces salted cucumber juice (recipe below)

1 ounce gin or vodka

1 ounce Pimm’s

slice of pickled apple for garnish (we’ll tell you how to make that also – it’s easy)

Put cucumber juice and gin or vodka into a cocktail shaker with ice and shake vigorously. Put Pimm’s in the bottom of a martini glass and strain the contents of the cocktail shaker into the glass. Garnish with pickled apple and serve immediately.

Salted Cucumber Juice

2 small to medium cucumbers, peeled and roughly chopped

1 apple, peeled and roughly chopped

Juice of one fresh lime

1/4 cup water

2 teaspoons light agave nectar

1 teaspoon Kosher salt

Put all ingredients in a blender and blend on high until liquified. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve. Can be refrigerated for up to three days, but tastes best when fresh.

Pickled Apple Garnish

1 apple, cut into 1/4-inch slices

1 cup white vinegar

1 tablespoon sugar

Whisk together vinegar and sugar in a bowl, add apple slices, and set aside for an hour. At this point, you can use the slices as garnish, and also put the liquid and apple slices into a jar and store in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

The Friday Tipple: Carrot Top

We’re gripped by spring fever, Boozers. Never mind that Punxsutawney Phil predicted an extended winter or that we see snowflakes in Monday’s forecast— we are now firmly planted in meteorological spring and nothing can turn us back even as the clocks move forward just a week from now. Spring has sprung.

Building on last week’s exploration of root vegetable cocktails — and an unintentional nod to 1980s pop culture — we were inspired yet again by the fresh produce delivered by our friendly green grocer. Nothing heralds spring more than a cheerful bunch of carrots, sweet and crunchy and topped by a frothy head of green fronds. Carrots are particularly sweet in the early spring, when frosty nights help concentrate their natural sugars and the warm sunny days allow them to deepen in flavor.

The pairing of carrots with rye whiskey is a perfect match for spring, which, as Charles Dickens said, is a time “when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade” — the rye has a comforting spicy warmth while the carrots lend a welcome note of bright sunshine. The Carrot Top is a necessary shot of spring; go ahead and put on the flip flops that you’ve been eyeing longingly in your closet. You might want to throw on a pair of toe socks with them, just in case. Cheers!

Carrot Top

This lovely little infusion makes a fabulous aperitif on its own, but also makes a smashing cocktail when poured over ginger beer on ice (and, even better, throw in a splash of Stone’s Ginger Wine to add another layer of flavor). If you don’t have crystallized ginger, then substitute a couple of small chunks of fresh ginger and about a 1/2 teaspoon of raw sugar.

1/2 cup rye whiskey (we used Catoctin Creek Roundstone Rye)

1 carrot, freshly grated

3 chunks of crystallized ginger, about 1-inch each

Place all ingredients in a jar and set aside for two hours. Strain liquid and discard carrot and ginger. To serve, put two ounces of infused rye into a cocktail shaker with an ice cube and shake vigorously. Strain into an aperitif or shot glass and sip responsibly.