The Strawberry Cucumber Collins

PrepStrawberry gin is an infusion I had heard of but never tried, then one day someone came out of the kitchen with a big bag of beautiful strawberries and you can probably figure out where my mind went. When I looked at a few recipes online, there was no mention of a need for heat for the infusion to work. Just let the sliced berries sit on the gin for a week or two and that seemed to be all there was to it.

For the recipe I turned to the Bar Chef Cookbook; 200g of sliced strawberries per 750mL of Gin (the recipe is actually 400g per 1.5L however I prefer to do my infusions in 26 ounce increments). The berries only need to sit on the gin for a week to fully infused, and it’s not hard to tell when the infusion is complete as the strawberries will have mostly lost their color.

Strawberry JarAs a side note, you might think these gin soaked strawberries would be a delicious treat. You couldn’t be more wrong.  I’m not going to expand because I know no matter what I say, if anyone tries this infusion they’re gonna try the strawberries. Just don’t say I didn’t warn you.

The first attempt at Strawberry Gin turned out to be every bit as good as I had hoped. I don’t add any sugar to any of my infusions to provide for greater control when making cocktails, however there is enough natural sugar in the strawberries to give the liquor a little sweetness. The strawberries also add a fair bit of body to the gin giving it an almost unctuous quality. And most importantly the flavor is representative of fresh strawberries; all in all it was a great success.

Strawberry gin is an infusion I’ve had around for some time and as such I’ve had the chance to experiment with it quite a bit. It’s very versatile and for the most part can take the place of gin in most cocktails or high balls for a delicious strawberry substitute. A great use for the strawberry gin is in a twist on the classic Tom Collins.

The Tom Collins is a drink that originates in the 1820’s. It was originally named the John Collins after the headwaiter at London’s Limmers Hotel. The original recipe called for London Dry Gin, lemon juice, sugar, and soda water. When the cocktail crossed the pond, American drinkers seemed to prefer the libation made with English Old Tom Gin (a stronger and slightly sweeter spirit) and thus the name changed to the ‘Tom’ Collins’ as people wanted a ‘John Collins’ made with Old Tom’s Gin.

CucumberThe first thing I tried when I finished my first batch of strawberry gin was a ‘Strawberry Tom Collins’ and while it was good I thought there was something missing. Around the same time I came across a blog about an interesting way to make flavored syrups through osmosis using a vacuum sealer. Jeremy Morgenthaller seems to have pioneered the concept while Serious Eats and Kevin Liu  expanded on it. The concept is simple, vacuum seal ingredients and sugar in a bag, the sugar will draw any liquid out of the ingredients producing a potent and flavorful syrup.

Lemon and Strawberry are friends, and the Flavor Bible (an actual book the kitchen at Chinched has) tells me that cucumber is friendly too, so I decided to make cucumber syrup to see how it would work. I use a ratio of 2 grams of cucumber slices to 1 gram of sugar vacuum sealed for 1-2 days.  If you don’t have a vacuum sealer this recipe should still work in a tightly sealed ziplock bag.

You’ll be surprised at how much liquid this method will draw out of the cucumber; I normally do 150 grams of cucumber to 75 grams of sugar which will yield about 150ml – 200mL of extremely potent cucumber syrup. I only use about a ½ oz of the cucumber syrup per cocktail, so it’s not hard to stretch it out.

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The recipe I settled with was 1 and ½ oz of Strawberry Syrup, a ½ oz of Cucumber Syrup, the Juice from ½ a Lemon (roughly a ½ oz) and top with Soda. Like I mentioned earlier I don’t sweeten my infusions and instead I add the sugar to the cocktail to order. The ½ oz of cucumber syrup brings plenty of sweetness while imparting an unmistakable cucumber flavor. The sweetness of the strawberry, earthy flavor of the cucumber and the bite of the citrus work really well together to create a very refreshing cocktail. It’s one of those cocktails that people call ‘dangerous’ given how easy it is to enjoy.

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The Strawberry Cucumber Cocktail

 

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