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Culinary Chronicles Summer Drink Series: Top 6 Poolside Drinks

Now that you have your Mint Simple Syrup and Cucumber Vodka, you have the two most important ingredients for summer drinks. But what to do with them? I’ve picked my favorite 6 drinks that use at least one of these ingredients! Now you are set for any barbeque, pool day, or random get together that the summer throws at you!

1. Cucumber Mint Gimlet

A gimlet was made famous by Raymond Chandler’s 1953 noir novel The Long Goodbye. The author wrote, “a real gimlet is half gin and half Rose’s lime juice and nothing else.” However, vodka soon became a popular replacement for the gin, creating the vodka gimlet. They became so popular that gimlets are now most commonly made with vodka, as in this cucumber mint gimlet.


2 ounces cucumber vodka

2 ounces lime juice

2 ounces mint simple syrup


Place all ingredients in a shaker filled with ice. Shake vigorously for a full 30 seconds. Pour into an old fashioned glass and garnish with a mint sprig!

2. Eastside Fizz

Bar-slinger Sasha Petraske gained fame from his highly exclusive (fit with a secret, regularly changing phone number) turned membership-only New York and London speakeasy bar, Milk & Honey. Renowned for its knowledgeable bartenders, high quality cocktails, and strict rules, the New York and London locations were named the top two bars in the world. For those who can’t afford the membership or can’t find the secret phone number, you can visit Petraske’s Little Branch, the new open-door speakeasy. This upscale-classic bar inspired the Eastside Fizz, a zingy drink perfect for summer.


1/4 cup cucumber vodka

1 1/2 tablespoons mint simple syrup

2 tablespoon fresh lime juice

Club soda as needed


Combine cucumber vodka, mint simple syrup, and lime juice. Shake vigorously with ice for 30 seconds. Strain into a tall glass filled to the top with ice. Top with club soda and garnish with a cucumber spear.

Note: To add a fresh flavor to the drink, muddle 5 mint leaves and 2 slices of cucumber in the tall glass before filling it with ice and pouring the shaken ingredients into it.

3. Vodka Dill Martini

This classic and timeless cocktail is a great drink anytime of the year. The first mention of the martini was in The New and Improved Illustrated Bartending Manual in 1888. However, many credit the modern martini to Martini di Arma di Taggia, the head bartender at New York’s Knickerbocker Hotel. He mixed half vodka, half vermouth, and a dash of orange bitters. As time went on, the orange bitters was removed, gin commonly replaced vodka, and the olive garnish was added. The classic Martini is a very simple drink, but there is plenty of room to make it your own. Winston Churchill, for one, drank his martinis so dry that they were practically straight gin! Whether you like it with gin, vodka, dry, wet, or dirty you are sure to love the summertime variation that is the vodka dill martini!


3 ounces cucumber vodka

2 teaspoons dry vermouth (add more for a wet martini, for a drymartini add less)

Dill sprigs for garnish


Combine vodka and vermouth in a tall ice-filled glass, stir gently or if you’re feeling a bit like James Bond (or prefer your drinks slightly diluted) shake vigorously with ice for 30 seconds. In a martini glass, gently muddle the dill. Strain vodka and vermouth into the martini glass.

Note: For a dirty martini, add a few drops of dill pickle brine.

4. Watermelon Cucumber Cooler

Nothing is better on a hot summer day that fresh cut watermelon. This drinks takes the refreshing taste of fresh watermelon and mixes it with the taste of crisp cucumber vodka for the perfect summer cooler! The lime and honey add a delicious balance of tart and sweet to the watermelon cucumber cooler that is sure to please at any summer barbecue!


1 1/4 cups cubed seedless watermelon (or 1/2 cup of watermelon juice)

Lime juice (to taste)

1/2 tablespoons honey

1 shot cucumber vodka

Cucumber slices, for garnish


Puree the watermelon cubes in a food processor or blender and strain though a fine metal sieve. Pour into a stemless wine glass. Add ice and then the rest of the ingredients. Stir to chill.

5. Mojito

The mojito gets its name from the African word mojo, which means “to place a spell.” Although the name may be of African origin, this drink is all Cuban. The drink is said to be created by Richard Drake, an English pirate who plundered Spanish ports in the new world. While in Cuba, he created “El Draque,” and when people began replacing Drake’s preferred alcohol with rum, the modern mojito was born! Ernest Hemingway brought the drink 90 miles north of Cuba to Key West, Florida. His mojito flavored presence can still be found in Havana, Cuba, in the La Bodeguita del medio bar, where you can find “My mojito in La Bodeguita, my daiquiri in El Floridita” in his handwriting on the wall of the bar!


1/2 lime

1 shot rum (I prefer my mojitos made with coconut rum)

1shot mint simple syrup

Club soda


Muddle the lime in a tall glass. Pour rum and mint simple syrup into the glass. Fill the glass with ice and fill to the top with club soda. Stir with a straw.

6. Arctic Mint Julep

Churchill Downs serves nearly 120,000 mint juleps every year over Derby weekend, but you can enjoy the official cocktail of the Kentucky Derby any day of the year! It is one of the oldest American drinks, and despite it’s Kentucky fame, actually originated in Virginia. TheMint Julep was first found in print in 1803 and described as a “dram of spirituous liquor that has mint in it, taken by Virginians in the morning.” 135 years later, the julep was adopted as the official drink of Churchill Downs. This frozen version is the perfect summer treat! Just think of it as a bourbon-mint snow cone!


1 tablespoon and 1 teaspoon mint simple syrup (divided)

1 shot bourbon

¾ cup of ice

Pour 1 tablespoon of the mint simple syrup into the cup. Blend bourbon and ice in a blender until smooth. Pour bourbon-ice mixture into the glass with the mint simple syrup. Pour 1 teaspoon of mint simple syrup over the ice, and dig in (with a straw or spoon!).

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