There’s a reason that the gin and tonic is the official drink of summer. The woodsy, herbaceous flavor of gin, woken up with a hit of citrus and a splash of bubbles, is about as much work as one can do when Philly feels as humid as an aquarium. If you’re feeling up for something a bit fancier, however, this cucumber martini is just as cooling.
Bluecoat American gin, made right here by Philadelphia Distilling, is citrusy enough to balance the mild bitterness of muddled cucumber, and both compliment the botanical character of dry vermouth.
If you can manage turning on the stove for a few minutes, take the extra step and make Pickled Mexican Gherkins the day before. Tasty on their own, they add a briny crunch to the martini and besides, they trounce olives on cuteness.
Pickled Mexican Gherkins
There’s small batch canning and then there’s smallest batch canning. This recipe yields just one half-pint jar of pickles, which is plenty for garnishing martinis, but scale up if you’d prefer.
- ¼ pint Mexican Gherkins
- ¼ cup water
- ¼ cup white or white wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon Bluecoat gin (optional)
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/8 cup (1 oz) granulated sugar
- 1/8 teaspoon each of coriander seed, dill seed, yellow mustard seed, and fennel seed
- 3 black peppercorns
- 3 cloves
- 3 allspice or juniper berries
- 1 pod of green cardamom
- 1-2 cloves of garlic
- 3 strips of lemon zest, peeled with a vegetable peeler
Heat vinegar, water, gin (if using), sugar, salt, lemon zest, garlic, and all spices in your smallest non-reactive saucepan over low heat. Bring to a boil and then remove from heat. Allow to sit, covered, while you prepare cucumbers. Wash and inspect your gherkins, removing any that don’t feel firm. Using a large sewing needle (or a narrow skewer) pierce each cucumber twice. This will help prevent floating and ensure that the brine penetrates them. In a half-pint jar, combine cucumbers and brine. Allow them to cool to room temperature and then cover and refrigerate. Allow them to pickle overnight in the refrigerator before using.
The Bluecoat Cucumber Martini
Be sure and double strain this martini. You want the flavor and color of cucumber without the pulpy texture.
- 2½ oz. Bluecoat Gin
- ½ oz. dry vermouth such as Cinzano Extra Dry
- 3-5 slices cucumber
Special Equipment: a cocktail shaker, a muddler, a long-handled spoon, cocktail strainer and a small, fine strainer. Chill your martini glass by filling with ice and cold water. In the bottom of a cocktail shaker, muddle the cucumber into a fine pulp. Add gin, vermouth, and enough ice to fill the shaker ¾ full.
Using a cocktail spoon, stir the mixture vigorously until the exterior of the shaker feels very cold to the touch. Allow the mixture to rest for 20-30 seconds, and then stir again for a moment. Dump water and ice out of your martini glass. Using a cocktail strainer, pour the mixture through a second, fine strainer into your martini glass. Garnish with Pickled Mexican Gherkins or a slice of cucumber and serve. Learn more about cukes, including a great recipe for Grilled Pocono Trout and Cucumber Salad in the current issue of Grid, which you can see here.
Learn more about cukes, including a great recipe for Grilled Pocono Trout and Cucumber Salad in the current issue of Grid, which you can see here.