Cucumber Pioneer (vodka and cucumber cocktail)
Want a light, refreshing cucumber cocktail that’s easy to make and perfect for all occasions? This cucumber pioneer is my pick. It’s made with fresh cucumber juice, vodka, mint and ginger beer for a zippy, fizzy finish. You’ll love this crisp cucumber vodka drink.
This post has been updated for recipe, photos and content since it’s original publication in 2016.
Table of Contents
- 1 Cucumber drinks
- 2 Ingredients for cucumber vodka cocktail
- 3 How to make cucumber juice
- 4 Garnishes are optional, kind of…
- 5 Assembling the cucumber vodka cocktail
- 6 How does it taste?
- 7 FAQ’s for cucumber vodka cocktails
- 8 Hors d’oeuvres that go with a cucumber pioneer cocktail:
- 9 Cucumber Pioneer
- 10 Pin it for later!
When you think of cucumber drinks, you might think spa water, like those infused herb and cucumber pitchers they display as a “fancy” refreshment when you’re checking in to a hotel or waiting to be called for a facial at a local day spa. But this cucumber cocktail isn’t a watered down wannabe.
Ingredients for cucumber vodka cocktail
- Cucumber Juice
- Simple Syrup
- Mint Leaves
- Ginger Beer
- Canton (or other ginger liqueur, optional)
- Garnish (optional)
How to make cucumber juice
According to Healthline.com, cucumber is 95% water, so unlike some fruits and vegetables that require a special juicer to extract the liquid, cucumbers practically come with a spigot.
To make cucumber juice at home, all you need is a vegetable peeler and a box grater and it’s so easy to do. I recommend using a standard cucumber, instead of the no-seed English or hothouse variety. There’s more flesh to extract the cucumber juice from Here’s how to make it:
- Peel the cucumbers and discard the skin.
- Cut the cucumber in half horizontally.
- Use the large holes of a box grater and grate the flesh of the cucumber, turning the cucumber once you get to the seeds in the center and continuing until all the flesh is grated and you have a seed cylinder. (This is the same method I use for making my Shredded Cucumber Salad & there’s photos to show you how.
- Transfer the shredded cucumber to a fine mesh strainer set over a bowl.
- Let the cucumber drain for 20-30 minutes.
Incidentally, I encourage you to make the cucumber salad at the same time you make this cucumber cocktail (or at least save the grated cucumber for later) so you don’t waste food. Makes sense, right?
How much juice can I get from a cucumber?
Figure that 1 cucumber will yield about 1/4 to 1/3 cup of juice, so if you’re planning on making multiple vodka cocktails, you may want to double up on the amount of cucumber juice.
You don’t need any special Boston shakers or other equipment for this cucumber drink. Just use a highball glass.
Garnishes are optional, kind of…
Garnishes are optional for this zippy cucumber vodka and mint drink, but I think a little bit of decorating is what makes a cocktail special.
There are a few ways you can go with this, but for this particular look, you’ll want to prep the garnish ahead of time.
For mine, I used a miniature English cucumber (the seedless variety). The reason I like this is that the skins are very thin and edible and their are no seeds, just a feint pattern of translucent cells. Beautiful.
You can also use a large English cucumber if you can’t find the minis.
Creating the garnish
- Lay the seedless cucumber flat on a work surface.
- Run a vegetable peeler in one long, smooth motion along the length of the cucumber. Discard the first piece, because it’s all skin.
- Continue to run the peeler along the side of the vegetable, so that you get long, thin, flexible cross-sections.
You can use these long pieces of cucumber to rim the inside of the glass, or bunch them up (accordion style) and secure with a fancy cocktail pick.
For rimming the inside of the glass
To rim the inside of the glass, curl the sliced cucumber into a cylinder just slightly smaller than the glass. Insert it into the glass and let it naturally open up. It will have enough moisture and turgidity that the cucumber will adhere to the inside of the highball glass.
For the accordion style
Gently fold the thin sliced cucumber back and forth so that it bends, but doesn’t break. Secure with a cocktail pick.
Assembling the cucumber vodka cocktail
- Add the vodka, cucumber juice, simple syrup, Canton and ice to the highball glass.
- Fill the glass with crushed ice and top with ginger beer.
- Garnish with extra cucumber and fresh mint leaves.
How does it taste?
If a cocktail can be quenching, this one IS. Instead of being overly sweet and cloying, this sipper is light and zippy. The ginger beer adds just the right fizzy, nose tingle. You can really taste the cucumber and the soft chartreuse color of the juice gives this easy sipper a springtime or summer vibe.
We make these ginger cucumber vodka drinks for enjoying on the patio in summer at dusk, when the sun is just starting to fade. They’re so crisp and light, it’s the perfect way to end a day — and lead into a tasty meal.
FAQ’s for cucumber vodka cocktails
Yes. You can make the cucumber juice up to a day in advance. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. If the juice separates while sitting, just give it a shake to redistribute.
Yes. Combine the cucumber juice, vodka and simple syrup in a pitcher and stir together. Keep refrigerated until serving. Pour the cucumber and vodka drink into glasses, then top with the ginger beer. (You don’t want to add the ginger beer until you’re ready to drink the libation, otherwise it will go flat.)
Yes. I’ve found that when you do that, the skin tends to really color the drink a very dark Kelly green (which can be pretty). It’s your choice.
Yes. Use what you’d normally drink — we like Tito’s.
Hors d’oeuvres that go with a cucumber pioneer cocktail:
- Greek Turkey Meatballs
- Florida Stone Crabs with Mustard Sauce
- Baba Ganoush
- Smoked Fish Dip
- Classic Southern Deviled Eggs
- Creamy Tuscan White Bean Dip
- Calamari Avocado and Grapefruit Bruschetta
- Grilled Shrimp Cocktail
More refreshing vodka cocktails you’ll love:
- Passionfruit Vodka Soda
- Drunken Cherry Martini
- Original Blood Orange Martini
- Winter White Cosmo
- Easy Lychee Martini
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For Cucumber Juice
- 2 large cucumbers not English
For Each Cocktail
- 1 ½ ounces vodka I used Tito's
- 1 ½ ounces cucumber juice
- 1 teaspoon simple syrup
- 1 ½ ounces ginger beer
- ¼ ounce Canton (Ginger Liqueur) optional
- miniature English cucumber or regular cucumber for garnish, optional
- mint leaves for garnish, optional
FOR THE CUCUMBER JUICE
- Peel the cucumbers with a vegetable peeler. Cut the cucumber in half and scoop out the seeds.
- Place a sieve over a bowl or glass measuring cup.
- Use the large holes on a box grater to grate the cucumbers and transfer to the mesh sieve. Transfer the grated cucumber to the sieve and set aside for 20-30 minutes to drain. This is the cucumber juice. (use the grated cucumbers for this grated cucumber salad).
FOR THE CUCUMBER COCKTAIL:
- If you're using the cucumber garnish, use a vegetable peeler to cut thin strips, lengthwise from the cucumber. Place 1 or 2 slices into a tall, thin rocks glass and press the slices to the sides of the glass, so they stick.
- Add crushed ice to the glass, then pour in the vodka, cucumber juice, simple syrup and Canton (if using). Stir to combine, then top with the ginger beer.
Definitely making this tomorrow night! It sounds amazing as does the class!!! Thanks for sharing:-)
Let me know how you like it Maggi! Gotta check out Max’s Harvest, too!
Your Cucumber Pioneer and Other Craft Cocktails look amazing! I am enjoying all the hip cocktail recipes and taking notes for my next adult party. Thank you for sharing!
Sometimes you just have to step up your cocktail game, right?
An afternoon at a delicious restaurant learning how to make wonderful cocktails sounds amazing…as does this Cucumber Pioneer!! I’ll have to try it ASAP 🙂
Definitely! Let me know what you think!
Oh my gosh, this is so pretty and I love anything with cucumber! I can’t wait try one of these!
Wow, this sounds incredible! What a fun event–and it’s cool that you left so inspired to make these drinks yourself!
Good call on the ginger beer substitution!! Makes this cocktail more accessible to the general public! 😉 Great post!
Thanks, CC! The ginger beer adds great fizz and spice!
I absolutely love cucumber in cocktails – this would be so great and refreshing for a sunny day!
I’m coming to your house for cocktails. I’ve never made my own cucumber juice but imagine the flavor is so fresh and intense. This sounds wonderful and refreshing!
I am obsessed with cucumber lately and the flavors in this drink sound delicious!
Looks like a great place and I love this cocktail. The cucumber is a refreshing twist!
Such a pretty cocktail! I love that green color, and cucumber is such a fabulous flavor in drinks. I bet this is delish!