I happen to think that an icy gin and tonic is the most refreshing simple summer cocktail. Two ingredients, lots of ice, and a squeeze of lime and happy hour begins. Perhaps it reminds me of punting parties in the park when I was a student at Oxford, or makes me feel sophisticated because my elegant grandmother ordered them when we traveled. It is my go to drink at parties or before restaurant dinners.
Cucumbers make a great underused garnish for cocktails, it’s fresh fragrance a real pleasure when you bring the glass to your lips. I recently added a little drained cucumber juice leftover from another recipe to an evening gin and loved the bright combo. That led to this – fresh, cold frozen cucumber ice cubes floating in a sparkling gin and tonic. Clearly, you could use these cubes in any drink – even a cold glass of water would benefit. Obviously, the size of your ice cube tray will determine how many cubes you get from this, but it should be enough for several cocktails. If you are having a party, make a double or triple batch of cubes. I recommend only three or four cubes per drink, as they do melt and add some texture to the cocktail. Supplement with regular ice cubes if you prefer a really cold drink. Starting with cold tonic can help as well. And of course, how much gin you use is up to you!
Cucumber Mint Gin and Tonic
For the Ice Cubes:
1 seedless (English) cucumber
10 mint leaves
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
pinch of salt
For each drink:
1 ounce gin (I prefer Hendrick’s)
Tonic water to top
Mint sprigs for garnish
Cut the cucumber into small chunks and drop into a blender. Top with the mint leaves, sugar and salt and add a little water to get things going. Puree the cucumber and mint until smooth. You may need to press down on the cucumbers to get them into the blades. Add a little more water if needed. Place a fine mesh strainer over a bowl and pour in the cucumber puree. Leave the puree to sit and drain into the bowl for about half an hour. You can shake the strainer, but don’t press down on the solids. The mixture will become cloudy and pulpy – and you don’t want your drink to become too thick as the ice melts. Pour the liquid into a 2-cup measuring cup (you should have about 1 cup of liquid). Add enough water to make two cups. Pour the cucumber juice into ice cube trays and freeze until solid. Don’t throw away the pulp from the cucumbers, it’s great stirred into Greek yogurt to make a dip for fresh vegetables.
Place three to four cucumber cubes into a double old fashioned glass and add the gin, pour over the tonic and add a mint sprig. Enjoy!