Why You Should Be Adding Cucumber To More Cocktails

Have you tried cucumber in cocktails? Many mixologists have. In fact, it may be hard to find a trendy bar these days that doesn't have some kind of cucumber-flavored concoction on the menu. We're not talking about pickles, either, although pickle-flavored booze has been particularly popular in recent years. No, we're talking about plain, unadorned cucumbers.

The reason bartenders like adding cucumbers to drinks, and you might want to start doing so, too, is that this vegetable has some bitterness to it. This is a result of the cucurbitacins it contains. These chemicals are meant to protect the plant from being eaten by herbivorous predators, and many animals associate bitter flavors with toxicity. The bitterness of cucumber, aligned with the bitterness of booze, can help counteract any sour or sugary mixers in a drink. This will make it more balanced, at least if your favorite flavors — if not your personality — lean more towards bitter than sweet.

That being said, the most important reason to add (or not add) cucumbers to your drinks revolves around whether or not you like them. If you're not a fan, don't feel bad, as you share your aversion with the former WWE superstar known as Undertaker. (The Deadman has such a hatred of cukes that, as fellow wrestler Mick Foley once revealed on an episode of "Inside the Ropes," on one occasion he "literally start[ed] dry heaving" when exposed to the sight of a cucumber in manager Paul Bearer's mouth.)

Here are some cucumber cocktails to try

Perhaps one of the best-known cucumber-containing cocktails is the Pimm's Cup (here's our recipe), an interesting concoction that mixes its eponymous liqueur with lemonade, strawberries, mint, and cucumber. It's an acquired taste, but there are many who seem to have acquired it since it's de rigueur at British summertime events including Royal Ascot and Wimbledon. Another semi-famous drink is the cucumber-flavored margarita known as El Pepino, made trendy after Justin Timberlake claimed it to be his favorite cocktail in a 20-tweens interview.

Other cucumber cocktails seem to be variants on standard gin drinks, such as using muddled cucumber as the not-so-secret ingredient in your summertime G&T. Cucumbers can also be used to flavor Tom Collinses and martinis, as well. As a matter of fact, you may already be drinking cucumber cocktails if you've purchased certain types of gin. All of the varieties Hendrick's offers are made with this ingredient, and Ritual's zero-proof gin alternative also uses cucumber to recreate that spirit's signature bitterness. With these or similar products, all you need to do is add a splash of soda water or tonic to make a very cucumbery cocktail or mocktail.