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The Cucumber: New Goliath in the Cocktail World?

Cucumbers and gin. Who knew? A lot of people, apparently, but I'm joining the party now.

Photo by Markus Winkler / Unsplash

I don’t know whether to be excited or ashamed.

Two favorites have been under my nose for years and I never knew it.

Cucumbers and gin.

Hendrick's: Cucumber Based

It came to my attention this week when I saw Hendrick’s is selling a box of its favorite cucumbers for $48. I was like, “Why does Hendrick’s even have favorite cucumbers? And how is it getting $3 for a cucumber? I get 25 cents at the roadside stop and steal.”

The answer to the price is obvious: because Hendrick’s thinks someone will pay that amount.

I’m not sure it’s $3 apiece. I’m just ballparking that price, based on the description and the picture. Hendrick’s doesn’t make the math easy and say, “16 cucumbers for $48,” but I think I’m pretty close.

Granted, these aren’t the ordinary General Lees that yield so many fruits in my garden that we can’t even give them away. They’re six rare varieties. Cucamelon, African Horned, Hmong Red, Gagon, Muromsky, and Aonaga Jibai. I’d never heard of any of them, but Hendrick’s has launched a PR campaign, assuring the world that they’re saving rare cucumbers from extinction by cultivating them.

And why are they cultivating them?

Because these rare cucumbers, combined with roses, give Hendrick’s its great taste.

I never knew.

Cuking the Gin

It turns out that cucumbers mix well with gin.

So for years, I’ve grown over 100 cucumbers every summer and drank over 100 gin and tonics, but I never thought to garnish the G&T with the cuke.

And that’s despite my awareness that cucumbers are often used as a garnish. I have a small library of cocktail books and they’re full of references and pictures of cucumbers, but I always dismissed them with a sort of unconscious instinct that said, “Too weird.”

Well, that’s going to change, and it appears it’s going to change for the drinking world as a whole.

Based on my Google searches, we are seeing the rise of cucumbers, at least in the cocktail world. Gin and ginger and cucumber. The cucumber gimlet. Or just an ordinary gin and tonic with cucumber slices.

It’s a great development.

I’ve had a horrible gardening year, starting with 96% of my pepper plugs failing and ending it would appear, with a huge squash bug infestation and quite a few pumpkins that are rotting from the inside.

But not the cukes. They came in strong, just like every year. They’re the yeoman of the garden, which is probably why every (idiotic) garden entrepreneur sells them for just 25 cents, food inflation or not.

I wish I realized the cucumber’s gin appeal earlier in the season. The cucumber season is almost over.

But only almost. My wife thought they were done, but I stumbled across four yesterday while inspecting the pumpkin damage.

I suspect one of them will get sliced and soaked this evening.

Cukes: The Alcoholic's Dinner Substitute

Added bonus: It might help me lose weight, even while I drink.

I can eat the soaked cucumber slices instead of eating dinner. I’ll be like Jim Morrison of The Doors, who ordered cocktails with fruit in them when he was hungry. This was toward the end of his life when he was drinking himself into a coma pretty much every day since he had sworn off marijuana after he had a bad high and envisioned his own death.

The problem is, after a handful of such dinners, I’ll lose my willpower and eat a bag of Doritos, but hey, I would’ve started the evening well.

Hangover Cure? Preventative?

Very well, in fact.

If you didn’t realize it, cucumbers are a miracle vegetable. Lists of its legendary qualities have long populated the Internet. You can apparently use them to defog bathroom mirrors, to erase crayon marks, and treat chapped lips.

I don’t really know about those things.

But they also apparently prevent hangovers.

That, I believe. They’re almost 97% water and full of magnesium, potassium, and manganese: electrolytes. People make DIY sports drinks out of them, and as every veteran of the hangover wars knows, Gatorade, Propel, and (my favorite) Nuun tablets are the foot soldiers of the good guys (caffeine is the artillery).

It’s hard to imagine that cucumbers wouldn’t at least take the edge off a hangover.

Maybe I’ll test the theory tonight.

Maybe two of those cucumbers will get sliced and soaked.