Miles Macquarrie’s “Here’s How” Cocktail Guide: Miller’s (The Original) Cucumber Cooler
18 July 2012Written by Miles Macquarrie
Here’s How is back just in time for summer. All of the previous cocktails I’ve shared with you have been classic recipes with a bit of history involved. To kick things off this time, we will begin with the most popular original cocktail that the bar at Leon’s Full Service has served since summer of 2009, Miller’s Cucumber Cooler. A “cooler” is a specific style of drink that has been served for quite a long time. A cooler should be long, served on ice, and have some sort of carbonation, like seltzer, tonic or champagne. Great classics that fit the bill here would be a Tom Collins, Mojito, Gin & Tonic, or a Gin Rickey. A cooler should be refreshing and have a relatively low sugar content.
This particular cooler was one of the first cocktails that I ever made before Leon’s Full Service opened. I remember muddling cucumbers for regulars and staff members at Brick Store Pub in 2008 when Leon’s was still in planning, and I was at the end of my three and a half year stint at the pub. The thought behind the drink was to make something that my current girlfriend (now wife), Leigh Anne Miller (now Macquarrie), would like. She will probably kill me for admitting this, but before we knew about classic cocktails and the fact that a cocktail didn’t have to be a sugary mess, she drank vodka sodas. The first time we had good cocktails out was at Holeman & Finch, who are responsible for lighting the cocktail fire under my ass and also continue to put out some of the best cocktails in the city. Leigh Anne always liked the idea of having cocktails, but before our first trip to H & F, they always ended up being either super sweet or, if ordering a classic martini, just a vermouth-free glass of strong gin or vodka.
Fast forward to 2012, and now you can get a great cocktail in almost every neighborhood. The Miller’s Cucumber Cooler has changed a good bit since making them at the Brick Store years ago (We would never have a muddled drink on our menu a Leon’s now a days–it would be suicide), but the Cucumber Cooler is still a summer staple here at Leon’s. Bright and refreshing, super approachable and quite possibly healthy, it’s like air conditioning in a glass. You will need some special equipment and ingredients to make this drink properly, but it’s totally worth it. And if you do this at a pool party, your friends will think you’re a badass.
We’ll start with prep:
Cucumber juice: You’ll need an electric vegetable juicer for this job. I use a Breville Juice Fountain Elite XL. Peel the cucumber entirely with a vegetable peeler, then slice vertically down the middle. Next take a spoon and scrape all the seeds out and discard. Then just put the cucumbers in the juicer and let it do all the work.
Make sure you strain the cucumber juice to get out any pulp. This juice will only stay good for one day.
Lime: Always fresh, always strained. Anything else is bullshit.
That’s it for prep. Now for the drink.
1.5 oz. Miller’s Westbourne strength gin. This is a bit stronger than the regular Miller’s, the botanicals pop more; it’s probably my favorite gin of all time. Get it.
.75 oz. lime juice. See above for the necessity of freshness.
.75 oz. cucumber juice
.25 oz. Martinique sugar cane syrup. This is an important ingredient. This syrup is made from the first pressing of virgin sugar cane juice from Martinique. It is fresh and grassy: essentially un-distilled Rhum Agricole. If you use regular simple syrup, the drink will be too thin. The domestic sugar cane syrup from the farmers market tastes too much like molasses. You can find the petite cane syrup from Martinique at Green’s on Ponce and at Decatur Package.
Shake all ingredients with ice.
Strain into a Collins glass over fresh ice. Top with seltzer or club soda. Garnish with a couple of cucumber slices, and finish with a pinch of salt on top. If this seems like too much work, just come to the bar at Leon’s. We’ll have it available from now until the end of September.