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From the Harvest: Ginger, Lime and Rose Water Cuketail

Ginger, Lime and Rose Water Cuketail.
Ginger, Lime and Rose Water Cuketail. (Photo and styling by John Houser III, Special to The Baltimore Sun)

Is there a vegetable subtler than the cucumber? Well, maybe cauliflower, but when used in a way that maximizes its grassy flavor, the cucumber can prove to be a great buy at your local farmers' market. From May until November, the cuke is used mainly as a topper on salads and as a member of the always bland crudites platter. It dreams of one day becoming a fancy sandwich served with tea.

What it might never have imagined is becoming a bright and thirst-quenching drink for hot summer days. This recipe teams cucumber with gin, lime juice, ginger syrup and rose water. They accent cucumber's smooth flavor with a tangy and floral kick. Don't be put off by the inclusion of rose water. This fantastically fragrant extract is available at most natural food stores and can be used as a base for a granita (or even as a perfume, if needed). If you want to make this drink virgin, substitute seltzer for the gin and add a little more of the ginger simple syrup.

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Ginger, Lime and Rose Water Cuketail

5 ounces cucumber water (see below)

3 ounces gin

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

2 tablespoons ginger simple syrup (see below)

1 teaspoon rose water

fresh cucumber for garnish

Combine all ingredients in a shaker. Shake contents until combined and frothy (40 good shakes). Pour over ice and garnish with fresh cucumber.

Cucumber water

3 pounds cucumbers, washed but not peeled, then grated

1 teaspoon salt

Mix grated cucumber with salt. Place in a strainer and let it drain, squeezing every 15 minutes, for one hour. It should yield 1 quart.

Ginger simple syrup

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3 ounces ginger root, cut into1/4-inch coins and smashed flat

1 cup water

1 cup sugar

Combine smashed ginger, sugar and water in a small pot. Bring to a boil and then turn off the heat. Let cool then strain.

Tip:

Take the leftover grated cucumber and mix with Greek yogurt, garlic paste (1 clove), minced fresh mint, and a splash of lemon juice. Finish with salt and pepper for a dip that begs to be eaten with toasted pita bread. It pairs well with the gin cuketail to help relieve the heat of summer.

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