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Tag Archives: cucumber

June 30, 2011 – Fargo, ND

One of the benefits of my job is getting to find neat cocktail lounges in places I’d never otherwise visit.  The HoDo Lounge in downtown Fargo is just one of those places.

It is located in the historic Hotel Donaldson and draws a crowd as eclectic as the drink menu.  The band added to the fun, playing a mix of original music and covers that kept the crowd moving all night long. 

The first drink that I had was the Firetruck.  It was an amazing cocktail that consisted of St. Germain, seltzer water, and (drum roll please) 10 year old Laphroaig.  Even though there was just a 1/4 oz of the Laphroaig in this drink it comes through loud and clear.  The St. Germain sweetens this up just a bit and softens the peaty flavor of the Laphroig, while the seltzer makes this a tall glass sipper that is refreshing.  An inventive and very interesting cocktail.

The second cocktail of the night was the unusually named Cucular Caley (pictured).  A melange of pomegranate vodka, Hendricks gin, Sailor Jerry rum and cucumbers, all topped with a bit of seltzer, this was an amazing drink.  It was slightly sweet, slightly spicy and slightly fruity, yet still boozy enough to remind me that it packs a punch.  Kudos to the staff for this fantastic cocktail!

With that it was time for me to head back to my hotel and get a good nights sleep before my drive back to Milwaukee.  You can be sure, though, that I’m looking forward to my next visit to Fargo!

June 17, 2010 – Wauwatosa, WI

A week ago Friday Gwen and I (with daughter number 2 in tow) went the Firefly Urban Bar & Grill in Wauwatosa to use our Groupon.  We’ve been to the Firefly before, and enjoy the casual atmosphere, good cocktails and some pretty good food.

Of course, I started with a cocktail, and ordered up the Pearly Cucumber off their cocktail list.  A straightforward and refreshing drink, it consisted of cucumber vodka, fresh lime juice and a splash of seltzer water.  The cucumber and lime flavors complimented each other well and this was a great alternative to my traditional summer gin and tonic.  My only quibble with the cocktail was the garnish.  That big, lengthwise slice of cucumber looks awfully cool in the glass, but actually makes it hard to drink.  I ended up using the straw, which I really don’t like to do when sipping a cocktail.  What can I say, it reminds me of being a kid slurping down a fast food soda.

Shortly after the drinks arrived our appetizer followed.  I had ordered a the smoked gouda and cheddar fondue.  It was delicious.  The texture was nice and silky and the flavor was awesome, with just a hint of smokiness.  Lightly toasting the bread cubes was a nice touch, and the granny smith apple slices were a nice contrast to the cheese.

Fondue at Firefly

All in all, another nice night at the Firefly.  I’m sure we’ll return again soon!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Well, I found this picture on my camera a couple of days ago…it’s dated May 14.  It looks delicious, doesn’t it?  I just wish I knew what the heck it is!  Obviously, made with Hendricks….

Wait a minute.  I just flipped through the spiral bound notebook that I use to write down new recipes and write my notes as I drink cocktails … and … I think I found it.  I’d swear that I’d looked before through my notebook and didn’t find this cocktail, but I’m sure this is it.  With Alzheimer’s moments like these, it’s no wonder that I’m getting AARP cards in the mail every other day.

  Mint Love and Happiness

  • 3 cucumber slices
  • 4-5 mint leaves
  • 1/2 oz bar syrup
  • 2 oz Hendrick’s
  • 1 oz St. Germain

In a mixing glass muddle the cucumber, mint and syrup.  Add ice and the Hendrick’s and St. Germain.  Stir to mix and chill.  Double strain into a chilled coupe.  Garnish with a lemon peel floating on a mint leaf (fancy, I know). 

Ahh, a twist on one of my favorite spring/summer cocktails, this takes the Love and Happiness a step further with the addition of the mint.  The flavors of the Hendrick’s, cucumber, mint and St. Germain were just made for each other – sorta  like Bob and Carol and Ted and Alice (did I really just write that?).

As you mix this baby up, put the Raveonettes latest release “Raven In The Grave” on the old Pioneer and listen to “Forget That You’re Young” while you sip.  The aural experience will match the taste experience, I promise!

(Really – this post is written exactly as my mind worked through it – I really didn’t know what the drink was in the picture as I uploaded it – do you really think I could make this stuff up?)

Day 281, Cocktail 280

Gwen was prepping to get the hell of out of Dodge ahead and down to Cancun with a bunch of her friends tonight.  They originally weren’t supposed to leave until Wednesday, but the “big blizzard” headed our way they moved their travel plans up a day.  So I figured that something with tequila was in order tonight.

Besides Gwen’s trip, the inspiration for tonight’s cocktail was a drink I saw on the Cooking Channel show Drink Up.  My inspiration was made with rum and cardamom syrup which I replaced with tequila and Old Ballycastle ginger.    The rest of the ingredients are in the original, although I played around a bit with the proportions.  Let’s see how it turned out.

  Mexican Hat Dance

  • 3 slices of cucumber
  • 1 oz lime juice
  • 1 oz bar syrup
  • 1 oz Old Ballycastle ginger
  • 2-1/2 oz Cazadores tequila

Toss the three cucumber slices into the bottom of your shaker, then add 4-5 ice cubes.  Add the rest of the liquid ingredients and shake, shake, shake.  You need to work this hard because you are muddling the cucumber at the same time that you are mixing your drink.  To prepare your collins glass cut three more slices of cucumber.  Place an ice cube in the bottom, then a cucumber slice, then another ice cube…create a stack three ice cubes / cucumber slices high.  Strain the drink over the cucumber / ice stack in the glass.

I know the drink is good when Gwen asks for seconds and thirds (it’s probably a good thing Andrea wasn’t here).  The flavors are multilayered with cucumber and ginger playing together, supported by the Cazadores.  There is just a hint of spicy heat from the ginger and the syrup keeps the drink from being too tart.  As an alternative, you can just dump the contents of your shaker into a collins glass.  This gives you bits of cucumber mixed in with the drink.  But, you don’t get the neat effect of the layered ice and cucumber slices.


Day 108, Cocktails 108 & 109

If Hollywood can make no less than three versions of the movie, I figure I can try three versions of the cocktail.  From the first sip of the first effort at the Blood and Sand I knew that, ultimately, this is the version I’d come up with.  Kind of like a love at first sight thing, do you know what I mean?

Those of you who know me well (that means you Stoffel) will say, duh, of course you were going to end up there.  Even you semi regular readers should not be suprised.

So just what the heck am I babbling about anyway?  Why, the use of Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur in place of the cherry brandy, of course.  That oh so tart maraschino flavor is perfectly complemented by the sweet vermouth and orange juice, with the smokiness of the scotch sitting in the background, nice and mellow.  I can just see the scotch, sitting in a wing backed arm chair, smoking a pipe, trying to decide which of his two loves, sweet vermouth or maraschino liqueur, to go home with.  Aw, heck, take ’em both home!

  Blood And Stan

  • 3/4 oz scotch
  • 3/4 oz sweet vermouth
  • 3/4 oz Luxardo maraschino liqueur
  • 3/4 oz orange juice

Combine all the ingredients in a shaker with ice and shake to mix and chill.  Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and enjoy – no garnish necessary.

For the record, I’ve been using Cutty Sark scotch for all these variants.  Feel like something bolder?  Try Laphroaig instead to amp up the peat and smoke flavors.

I’m glad I got that out there and off my chest.  Really, I’ve been thinking about this cocktail since last Saturday!

Round two tonight was a cocktail for Gwen that was inspired by the show “Drink Up” on the Cooking Channel.  Yes, I know that one cooking network wasn’t enough and that we needed another.  At least these guys have shows about cocktails!  It was also helpful that I was able to use a couple of ingredients fresh from the garden.  Really, I mean fresh, as in about 2 minutes from being picked to being in the cocktail!  That’s one of the neat things about summer – there are so many truly fresh ingredients that you can work with right out of your own bar garden.

  Basil Collins

  • 2 oz Hendricks gin
  • 1 oz lemon juice
  • 1/2 oz bar syrup
  • seltzer water
  • 3 cucumber slices, about 1/8″ thick
  • 1 orange slice, about 1/8″ thick
  • 1 basil leaf

In a mixing glass combine the cucumber, orange, basil and bar syrup.  Gently muddle.  The key here is gentle – you want to leave the basil, orange and cucumber relatively intact while extracting the flavors that each contains.  Add several ice cubes, the gin and lemon juice.  Pour back and forth between two mixing glasses several times to mix.  Finally, pour into a collins glass and top with seltzer water.  Garnish with an orange slice or wedge.

Yet another light, refreshing summertime cocktail.  The fresh basil and cucumber work very well together and with the citrus flavors.  The gin is there, but not overpowering at all.  Mix one up and let me know what you think – or better yet, let me know about your twist on this one!


Day 90, Cocktail 92

Another warm day in Milwaukee, another great pool day!  I definately needed somthing cool and refreshing, and I still need to use up all those cucumbers growing in the garden!  The inspiration for today’s cocktail is from a drink I had several years ago at the Hi Hat in Milwaukee’s Eastside.  That particular cocktail muddled cucumber, orange, lime and maybe lemon with St. Germain, Hendricks and topped with tonic water. 

I initially set about to basically do the same thing, but started looking through the cabinet with all the liqueurs.  Pimm’s is also a pretty good match for cucumber, so I started messing around a bit with proportions  Here is what I came up with.

  Tangerine Dream

  • 1-1/2 oz Bombay gin
  • 1/2 oz Pimm’s No. 1
  • dash of Agnosturo bitters
  • 2 cucumber slices (about 1/8″ thick)
  • 2 lime slices (about 1/8″ thick)
  • 2 tangerine slices (about 1/8″ thick)
  • Tonic water

In a mixing glass muddle the cucumber, lime and tangerine slices with the Pimm’s and Agnosturo bitters.  Pour into a large collins glass or pint glass.  Add 5-6 ice cubes, gin and tonic water and stir to mix.  Garnish with a tangerine wedge.

I truly enjoyed this cocktail.  The Pimm’s added just a hint syrupy and herbal flavor that balanced well with the citrus and cucumber.  The tonic water lightened this up enough to make it perfect for a warm summer day.


Day 89, Cocktail 91

Another Friday night at the Twilight Lounge, and it’s another retro cocktail night.  With no plans for the evening it’s a great time to try a couple of new ones on for size.

The first was born out of the fact that I still had the Kajmir sitting out from the Tuesday’s effort.  I pulled my copy of “The Martini Book” of the shelf and started browsing.  (By the way, as you know, I do not condone the name of this book by Sally Berk.  It would be far more appropriate to call it the cocktail book.  Ok, I’ll move on as I did promise to limit my rants).  One recipe that caught my eye called for vanilla flavored vodka, Calvados and dry vermouth.  Hmmm, the Kajmir should do nicely in place of the vanilla vodka I reasoned.  So, my version became the Apple Pie cocktail.

  Apple Pie

  •  3 oz Kajmir
  • 1/2 oz Calvados
  • 1/2 oz dry vermouth

Combine everything in a shaker with ice and shake away.  Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with a thin slice of apple (Granny Smith or another tart apple works best).

Not bad.  It is reminiscent of a slice of apple pie courtesy of the blend of Calvados and the Kajmir.  This would be great to have in about 2 months after harvesting apples and sitting in front of a roaring fire.

Gwen wasn’t wild about the Apple Pie, so it was back down to the Twilight Lounge to mix her up a drink.  I have been working on this cocktail variant of the Love and Happiness for a while now, and think it’s ready to publish.

  Gin Mint

  • 3 oz Hendricks gin
  • 3/8 oz St. Germain
  • 2 slices of cucumber, about 1/8″ thick
  • 2 slices of lime, about 1/8″ thick
  • 3-4 grains of kosher salt
  • 1 small sprig of mint

Place the St. Germain, cucumber, lime, salt and mint into a mixing glass and muddle.  Be sure to just go up and down with your muddler, do not twist.  Twisting will pulverize the mint and cucumber seeds and make it harder to strain out.  Add 4-5 ice cubes and the gin and stir thoroughly.  Double strain into a chilled cocktail glass.  Garnish by floating a cucumber slice.

This is a very nice, refreshing, hot summer evening cocktail (which, by the way, is exactly the kind of evening we’re having here).  The St. Germain sweetens the drink just so while the salt helps bring out the best of the cucumber.  Give this a try with one of those fresh cucumbers from you garden.  Really, go ahead, I’ll wait why get it.


Day 84, Cocktail 87

I’ve got a bumper crop of cucumbers going, so what better way to use them than in a cocktail.  Sure, I could make pickles, but really, which would you rather do?

Down to the Twilight Lounge I went and started experimenting.  I decided to make a cucumber puree so that I could add it to whatever else I came up with.  It was pretty simple to do.  I took a large cuke, peeled it and sliced in half lengthwise so I could remove the seeds (a melon baller works really well, or a spoon will work as well).  I learned the hard way last year that taking the seeds out and peeling are important.  If you don’t you end up with a really gritty puree that’s not much fun in your cocktail.  One good sized cucumber (8″ or so, and get your mind out of the gutter) will yield about 5-6 ounces of puree.

Now, what to mix this with?  Well, gin is a natural, so I stuck with that for today (although I’m betting tequila and cucumber would hit it off well…hmmmm….).  I also love St. Germain with gin and cucumber.  I’ve also had cocktails in the past that muddled cucumber, orange and lime with gin. 

Eventually, and after several tries, this is what I came up with.


  • 1-1/2 oz Hendricks Gin
  • 3/4 oz St. Germain
  • 1/4 oz Cointreau
  • 1 oz cucumber puree
  • 1/2 oz lime juice

Combine all the ingredients in a mixing glass and stir to combine.  Pour into a collins glass filled with ice cubes.  Add 1-2 mint leaves, top with seltzer water and stir. 

This is a refreshing, cucumber flavored drink with just a hint of sweetness from the St. Germain.  Definately not your same old gin and tonic for those warm summer evenings!


Oriental Gem or Just Oriental?

Day 62, Cocktails 57 & 58

While this is day 62 of my adventure, these two cocktails are from earlier this week.  Several months ago I purchased a bottle of Ty Ku liqueur at my local Otto’s Wine and Spirits.  Otto’s is definately my go to place for liquor, liqueurs, beer and wine.  The selection is large, the staff knowledgeable and the prices good.  If you are in the Milwaukee area and enjoy a drink now and then, check them out!

So, back to the Ty Ku.  It was on sale, looked interesting, and based on nothing more than that, I bought it.  When I got home I opened it up, poured a small sample and took a sniff.  Hmmm, my initial reaction was not pleasant.  I took and sip and was not thrilled.  The closest thing I could liken it to was a distilled spirit that I had in China that smelled like sweat socks left in a gym locker and tasted worse.  While this was not that bad, it did seem to have the same origin.

I let it sit for a couple of months, during which time my liqueur cabinet has started to overflow.  Being the kind of person that cannot throw liquor away (no matter how unattractive it is) I endeavored to find a use for it.  My quest started at the Ty Ku website.  They are pretty non specific about the geography of its origin, but do give some information on what does make up Ty Ku.  The flavoring components are yuzu, a fruit that is somewhat of a cross between a lemon and a lime, honeydew melon (a flavor that I can detect in it), mangosteen (I have no idea what this tastes like as it is not generally available in North America), ginseng,  green tea, and goji berry.  I won’t even begin to get into the veiled “health” benefits that Ty Ku seems to think it possesses.  My interest is in what I can do with this 40 proof liqueur.

My first Ty Ku cocktail is from their website and is a bit of a twist on a margarita:

  Skinny Senorita

  • 1-1/2 oz Ty Ku
  • 1/4 oz tequila (I used Cazadores)
  • 1/2 oz lemon juice
  • soda water

Combine the Ty Ku, tequila and lemon juice in a shaker glass with 3-4 ice cubes.  Stir well to mix and chill.  Pour into a rocks glass filled with cracked ice.  Top with soda water and garnish with lime slice.

This cocktail, I have to admit, was light and effervescent.  A hint of th melon flavor in the Ty Ku came through, which was very nice.  On their web site Ty Ku claims this is a 96 calorie cocktail, so Gwen appreciated that aspect of it as well.

My second effort with Ty Ku was last night.  The flavor profile (which by now has grown on me) seemed like it would work well with cucumber.  Did somebody say cucumber?  Hendrick’s gin immediately came to mind as a base spirit.  Then I borrowed a page from Chad Doll’s playbook and used my citrus juicer on an unsuspecting cucumber to get its juice.  After several trials, I settled on this little number:

  Melon Cukey Baby

  • 2-1/2 oz Henrick’s gin
  • 3/4 oz Ty Ku
  • 1/8 oz cucumber juice
  • 1/8 oz bar syrup

Combine all the ingredients in a shaker with 4-5 cubes of ice.  Shake, shake, shake to mix and thoroughly chill.  Pour into a chilled, 6 oz cocktail glass.  Garnish with a floating cucumber slice.

As I was working this I dialed back on the cucumber juice and increased the gin and Ty Ku to get the balance right.  In the end I thought this was a tasty, summer cocktail with just enough sweetness to refresh but still allow the interplay between the melon flavor in the Ty Ku and the cucumber tones of the Hendrick’s.   Try it out and let me know what you think — and if you have a better idea for a name, please let me know!  I’ll mix you one if have the winning suggestion!