From juices to margaritas, mojitos and daiquiris -- cucumbers are now given a twist in myriad forms in refreshing summer cocktails, which are readily being shaken and stirred at pubs, bars and eateries.
Full of health benefits and not burning a hole in your pocket, cucumber-based drinks are turning into a centrepiece of summer sips and are being lapped up by the young and old alike.
"Cucumber is a very versatile ingredient. It instantly lends a crisp and mighty refreshing taste whenever added to any drinks... And in summer, cucumber is the best ingredient chefs can experiment with because of its versatility and cooling properties. Cucumbers, when added to drinks, salads or sandwiches, instantly revitalises your body," Chef Vivek Rana, Chief Executive Chef, Triple8, told IANS.
The drink served at the bar located in Khel Gaon has been given a twist of Vodka infused with nori (edible seaweed), muddled with cucumber and jasmine syrup, topped with sparkling wine and garnished again with thin slices of cucumber and nori sheets. The drink is priced at Rs 645.
Simant Tyagi, co-owner, South Delhi-based Hyjack, says cucumber drinks are savoured for their refreshing flavour.
"Cucumber is a summer favourite vegetable that is popularly used in salads as well as cocktails and mocktails... While mangoes are enjoyed for their taste, cucumber is relished for its refreshing flavour and immense health benefits," Tyagi told IANS.
To beat the scorching heat, the drink at Hyjack is called the Chilli Cucumber Margarita, and is available for Rs 545.
Pankaj Mendiratta, Founder of TAMA Brewery and World Kitchen in Faridabad, says their cucumber-based Young Forever drink, at a pocket-friendly price of Rs 399, is a hot favorite amongst their patrons as the fruit can be used and mixed easily with juices and liquor.
"It is a really a good idea to use cucumber as an ingredient for summer drinks, as it really blends well with almost any cocktail or mocktail and gives a very refreshing and revitalising taste," Chetan Kaushal, Co-owner and Mixologist at Karma Kismet in the Greater Kailash area of South Delhi, told IANS.
Kaushal added that the cocktail called the Kentucky Sour is a "hot favourite" with their patrons.
Chef Balpreet Chadha, Director Culinary Operations, Annamaya, at Andaz Delhi, says cucumbers are also one of the most cooling detox drinks and that it has a subtle flavour, which helps in creating a refreshing beverage. The drink here is priced at Rs 280.
There are many restaraunts, bars and hotels, like Tito's (Noida), Gustoso and Intercontinental Marine drive (Mumbai), Punjab Grill, Lord of the Drinks, Tamasha, Open House Cafe and Warehouse Cafe which have special cucumber-based dishes and drinks to beat the scorching summer heat.
Visual appeal makes cucumber-based drinks a favoured drink amongst patrons, says Sonali Mullick, mixologist at the Mumbai-based HITCHKI, which serves its Indismoke drink for Rs 250.
"Due to the cucumber's high water content, it can easily be made and kept handy which can be used for summer-tails giving the cocktail or mocktail a soothing green colour. The drink gets visually appealing with a hint of cucumber which most people like," said Mullick.
Cucumbers also have health benefits and are rich in anti-oxidants, says Chef Vetrimurugan from Gurgaon-based Zambar.
"Cucumber is a favourite ingredient for summer because of its refreshing benefits. It is an important source of antioxidants and has a surprising amount of nutritional benefits as well. One cucumber contains Vitamin A, Vitamin B-6, and Vitamin C, as well as Magnesium and Calcium," Vetrimurugan told IANS.
(Durga Chakravarty can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)