cucumber cape-codders.

So, here’s how this started. Jen made a tasty-looking Meyer lemon margarita back in May. Then Julie made this little cucumber gimlet, which got me thinking about cucumbers in drinks. Then Brianne had to go and make this little darling, which was bite-y tart like I like, and then I started thinking about tart things. Like cranberries. Seems as though now that summer’s here, everyone’s kicking back with a little creative drink-doing. I don’t know the first thing about creating a drink, so I had no intention of doing this for you. And then I purchased the latest Martha Stewart Living magazine.

Dang you, July edition; you lure me in every year.

I don’t know about you, but I feel like Martha Stewart goes through a little bit of a boring spell during the spring months. And I don’t blame her: after the frenzy of baking and decorating which is the winter holidays, spring is a little bit of an entertaining downer. And i think her best spring stuff is reserved for her Wedding magazine. Secret = out, Martha.

But that chick can throw a summer party like nobody’s business. I mean, no one does it like Martha in the summer, at least in my opinion. And this month’s magazine is the one I’ve been waiting for: the one just overflowing with ideas for everything, and tons of food, and drinks. And this one looked far to appealing to pass up.

I’ve never infused simple syrup with anything before, people. And that’s how the cucumber gets in there; you shred some cucumber, throw it in your simple syrup while it cools, and boom: you have perhaps the best, most summery-smelling simple syrup of all time.

After that, it’s simple; squeeze a few limes, pour a little cranberry and chilled vodka into a pitcher, add your cooled cucumber goodness, and you’re done. no cocktail shakers required, just ice and some willing glassware. I made it for a little get-together last weekend, and it was an unexpected hit; “unexpected” meaning I knew everyone should like this drink, I just didn’t know if they’d give it a fair shot. I was delighted (as were they) that they did.

And there’s really something about it that isn’t one thing or another: it’s not overly cranberry-ish, but the cucumber doesn’t at all overpower the other flavors; just makes for a really lovely scent and a pretty background flavor. The lime adds a citrusy brightness, but again; not overpowering. Simply put, you will drink this up. It will be gone before you know it, so plan ahead and double the recipe if need be.

For the kids and non-drinkers out there, substitute club soda for the vodka in whatever ratio you prefer, and you have yourself some refreshing little summer fizzies.

 Adapted from Martha Stewart Living magazine, July 2012 edition. Even if you never pick up a Martha magazine, the July one is always a good one for recipes and party things. Promise.

Cucumber Cape-Codders (easily doubled, or tripled, for larger gatherings)

  •  1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 cups grated English cucumber (about 1 cucumber), plus cucumber wedges for garnish*
  • 16 ounces cranberry juice
  • 10-11 ounces vodka, chilled** (I put mine in the freezer)
  • 1/2 cup fresh lime juice (about 5 limes)
  • copious amounts of ice, for serving

*you know, it never states in the original recipe to peel the cucumber; I think leaving the peel on adds to the flavor. however, if you see the photo in the magazine, there’s not one speck of green tint to be had. it’s suspiciously clear and very pink, and I imagine removing the peel may keep the color out of the syrup. Personally, I like the peachy/coral color it becomes, but you decide for yourself. If you feel your color is weird once put together, add 1 or 2 drops of red food color.

**club soda (or tonic water) would be really good in this if you’re not a vodka person. Quite refreshing. Experiment and see if you like it without the alcohol sometime.

make your simple syrup:

Bring sugar and water to a boil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Reduce heat and simmer once it hits full boil, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Remove from the heat, stir in your grated cucumber, and set aside to cool.

Once cooled, pour through a fine mesh sieve into a bowl or large glass measuring cup, pressing on the cucumber to extract all the liquid from it. Discard the grated cucumber remains and put cucumber simple syrup into the refrigerator to chill. And you can do this ahead: cucumber syrup can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to three days.

simple. now, make the rest of your drink:

Combine lime juice, cranberry juice, and cucumber simple syrup (once cooled completely) in a 2 quart pitcher. Add desired amount of vodka (or, if you’re going the fizzie route, add your club soda) to taste. Cocktail can be refrigerated up to 8 hours (once combined) if you’re using the alcohol; serve immediately if you’re going with club soda. Alternatively (for the club soda option), combine the two juices and simple syrup together and chill until serving; top each glass with desired amount of club soda at that point.

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16 Comments on "cucumber cape-codders."

  1. Emma says:

    I know what you’re saying about the difference between seasons in MSL magazines. I don’t really ever ‘entertain,’ so I tend to be quite bored by the lavish sections designated in summer to the “I just happened to throw together a luxurious dinner made from the finest organic and locally-sourced ingredients and ha ha I am serving it in my greenhouse, quelle surprise, there is dirt in here but it is shabby-chic, I am a millionaire and did I mention I can’t be bothered to buy chairs ha ha ha pass me a DRINK” kind of people. I enjoy the spring issues cause they’re all about gardening, cuz!

    But really, I like all the issues, since I am a Martha Stewart fuh-nah-tic. Which you can tell based on my taking poetic license with a true story from a recent issue. Right.

    • shannon says:

      so we’re both fanatics for martha, but for different reasons and in different seasons? interesting. it’s like sometimes we are the exact same person (abandoned things photography) or utterly different (foraging and hikes). i dig that.

      and can i say that’s just about the best rant/parody of martha EVER. i feel like i should find the post now where i said something very similar involving unicorns working as her interns, etc. and doesn’t the whole like “hey, let’s have an impromptu thanksgiving in my perfectly pristine, non-manure smelling, turn-of-the-century horse barn” get you? man, i love those party sections where you know that couldn’t ever actually happen in real life. i want things like that to happen, and to me, but until then, i pore over the pages of martha stewart. :)

  2. First, I love Martha. Like, the only other person who I really want to be my neigbor besides you is Martha. Okay, Martha and Ina Garten…because she shares food with ALL of her neighbors.

    Also, I made blackberry syrup for blackberry cream sodas a few weeks ago. Duuuude, I bet this would make quite a refreshing little cream soda.

    Also, loving the color of this drink. Jen loves pretty drinks. It makes me a prettier drunk, I think.

    Is it almost time for us to go to the beach?

    • shannon says:

      i think ina garten would be great to have as a next door neighbor. martha, although i’d love to attend her parties, seems like she would be awkward to speak to. or to have any sort of conversations with. and i’m slightly frightened by her daughter, so if she came to visit, i’d have to stay in my house. ina seems much more approachable. like i could sit in her house and yap. then, of course, we’d live in the Hamptons so that’s all we’d have to do. yap and cook. repeat.

      blackberry syrup! mmmmm…see, this whole infusing things is new to me in terms of syrups/drinks. it opens up a world of possibilities. and i’m up for making anything a bubble-filled drink. no alcohol required. i’m a kid sometimes though. not of legal drinking age. :)

      it’s almost time! t-minus 1 week. at this exact time next week, i’ll probably be either unpacking or napping. it’s anyone’s guess, really. and when i say “napping,” i mean “face first in a pool.”

      • Emma says:

        Her daughter is made all the much creepier by how a) going on 50, she has spent years making money by making fun of her mom in an angsty teenage way, and b) after spending the reported $27,000 a month on IVF treatments, she had her kids through a surrogate mom. Oh yeah, and she wants her “kids” to call Martha ‘Martha.’

        • shannon says:

          i agree with every single bit of that. EVERY. SINGLE. BIT. it’s almost like, uncomfortable creepy. and most of the time, random things don’t make me actually uncomfortable.

  3. Cramberry and cucumber and best friends with gin, you know – I think I spy a substitution waiting to happen. Brilliant idea, thank you!

  4. Hellooooo, nurse! This drink has my name written all over it. Love the cucumber simple syrup idea. Thanks!

  5. Brianne says:

    I have this thing about Martha. I subscribe to Everyday Food and Whole Living, but I can’t convince myself to pick up any of her eponymous publications. I don’t know why, I just can’t do it.

    But this. This and your theory on the July issues may convince me otherwise.

    • shannon says:

      i get that: i think everyone has the publication they like or they find is the most practical for them? i get whole living from time to time, and same with everyday food, but i’m not regular about it. but i promise you, if you DO pick up one, the july one is awesome for summer food, and i am also quite a fan of september and november. december’s pretty great too, but i think it goes without saying that martha can pull off holiday cheer like a schoolhouse full of Saint Nicholases. eses. :)

  6. Willow says:

    I love using cucumber to freshen up a drink, but I never would have thought of infusing it with simple syrup. Great idea, Martha! ;)

  7. First, that drink is smashing! It’s making me very, very thirsty.

    Second, Martha is my idol. And also, she scares the crap out of me. But I like that tension in our relationship. (I love it when she has to do tv segments with kids. I’m so freakin’ afraid that they’ll make a mistake and she’ll totally lose it. And yet, I kind of hope they drop a huge bowl of batter on the floor…) Anyhoo, have the July issue on my nightstand. But haven’t found the time to read it – not the way I want to. I like to savour it. No rushing through Martha. So, tomorrow 2.0 goes golfing. And tomorrow, Martha and I stay in bed with coffee. And yah, that sounded creepy. Whatevs.

    I’ve been thinking about making a rhubarb drink – something a little tart and a little sweet. This post was just the kick in the pants I need!

    • shannon says:

      I sincerely hope you made a pitcher of this stuff and had it waiting for you this morning. that’s right, i said this morning. to drink after coffee.

      i share your opinion/obsession with martha. i’d say i want to be her, but i think what i want to be is me, but with her a) real estate, b) empire and c) friends. i feel like i could do all sorts of massively fun things then. but yes, she scares the crap out of me. I typically watch with rapt attention (even to reruns) when she has guests on. because you can tell early on if she despises them, and that happens quite often. and then you get to watch it play out: will they win her over a little? will they say/do/think something wrong, sealing the hatred in stone? it’s like an extremely cold soap opera. and i LOVE IT.

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