First off, this picture doesn't do this drink justice. To be honest, it never had a fighting chance. I was hot, tired and thirsty when I made it - and anxious to take the first sip. Patience never was one of my virtues. I wonder if cucumbers are patient?
If not, they need not worry, they're blessed with a host of other virtues sure to compensate. Cucumbers are crisp, brightly green in flavor, kinda tart yet a little bit sweet, and possessed of marvelous cooling properties. It is these cooling properties that intrigue me, in so far as mixology is concerned.
For my cucumber Challenge entry, I wanted to think outside the box a little bit and reach for something, perhaps, a bit unusual: Mezcal. And, no, I'm not talking about that rot-gut stuff of wormy legend. Today's Mezcal is a premium spirit and it is distinctly sans worm. We've been having fun mixing it up with Mezcal, Chez Diva, and I'm well pleased with the results. I'll offer a more detailed explanation of the spirit in subsequent posts - but for now, the simplest way to describe it is: a smoked tequila. Leaves of the agave plant are roasted over hot rocks and mesquite, which combine to lend a pronounced smoky flavor to the spirit.
Since we happened to have a bottle of Sombra Mezcal on hand, I looked to their website for recipe options and lo and behold, there was a drink entitled: Cool as a Cucumber. Sold! While the original recipe calls for some passion fruit nectar, I was unable to find any at my local market so I've substituted some papaya juice instead. The result? A crisp, refreshing cocktail with a slightly smoky finish. Magnificent!
Cool as a Cucumber:
recipe adapted from Sombraoaxaca.com
- 1 1/2 ounces Sombra Mezcal
- 3/4 ounce fresh lime juice
- 1 ounce papaya or passion fruit nectar
- 3 cucumber slices
- 1 teaspoon agave nectar
- 1 ounce ginger beer
- some ground chile powder for garnish
1. Place the lime juice, agave nectar and cucumber slices into the bottom of a cocktail shaker and muddle with a muddling tool to crush slightly the cucumber and release its juice.
2. Add the Sombra, papaya (or passion fruit) juice, and the ginger beer and fill the shaker with ice. Cover and shake well until the outside of the shaker frosts. Strain through a fine mesh sieve into an ice filled rocks glass. Garnish with a slice of cucumber and sprinkle a bit of chile powder on top. Serve and enjoy, repeat as necessary!
I used some New Mexican chile powder, but anything with a slightly spicy kick will do. This little sprinkle may seem like a frivolous garnish, but do not skip it - that slight hint of spice really adds something special to the mix.
The cucumber, agave nectar and fruit juice combine to temper the smoke of the mezcal and the finished drink is remarkably smooth and balanced. While initial notes are slightly sweet and a bit green, the final note is softly smoky and thoroughly intriguing. This is a cool, crisp drink that's just perfect for the warmer weather. In fact, its almost like a cucumber margarita. A winning combination in my book. I hope you'll try it!
There's still time to enter this month's Thirsty Thursday's Challenge. Details to be found here, entries are to be posted and emailed to me by midnight on Monday, May 31st. I hope you'll join us!