A Famous Bartender Shows You How To Make His ‘Cucumber’ Cocktail For Your Holiday Soiree

In this series, we are going to find cocktails from bartenders all across the country and then get them to make the drinks step-by-step from start to finish. Pull up a stool and join us.

The cocktail renaissance has given the world a parade of highly-skilled, dedicated, creative bartenders in every ‘burg and hamlet in the country. From Butte to Bangor, it seems like you can’t walk more than a few blocks without running into a cocktail bar or wannabe speakeasy. But sometimes, even though they mean well, some of these bartenders get a little too elaborate with their creations. Watching a cocktail being made can be an exciting, almost theatrical performance, but few customers want to wait ten minutes while the bartender delicately adds ingredient after ingredient.

Sometimes, you just have to keep it simple. That’s why we love Thomas Waugh’s cocktail, simply called “Cucumber”. Waugh is the star bartender from The Pool Lounge in New York City and his drink is made with cucumber-infused absinthe, lime juice, cane syrup, and muddled cucumber wheels. In a holiday season filled with dark, whiskey-fueled cocktails, this light, cucumber and absinthe-based drink is a welcomed respite.

When it comes to crafting cocktails Waugh’s process is very straightforward. He doesn’t enjoy making over-the-top cocktails with way too many competing flavors.

“My approach to cocktails is to focus on one single prominent ingredient,” he explains. “Then build the cocktail around it –Cucumber, Jalapeño, Orange, Cinnamon and Grape.”

This is exemplified in his work at The Pool Lounge, where the main ingredient of each cocktail lends its name to the drink itself. What better way to tell drinkers what they are in for than to simply name the cocktail after it’s most predominant flavor?

By Thomas Waugh from The Pool Lounge in New York City

  • 1 ½ oz Cucumber–Infused Absinthe*
  • 1 oz Lime Juice
  • ¾ oz Cane Syrup
  • 3 Baby Cucumber Wheels (Muddled)
  • *Cucumber–Infused Absinthe:
  • 300 g Thinly Sliced Cucumber
  • 750 ml (1 bottle) Absinthe
  • Combine and let steep for 24 hours.
Step-by-step instructions:

Take one refrigerated Persian or baby cucumber.
Thinly slice with a Japanese mandolin and place the cucumber wheels on a plate.
Using a chilled coupe, overlap cucumber wheels in the glass.
Start placing each cucumber wheel individually on the rim and construct descending rows around the circumference of the glass to the coupe’s bottom.
Fill the coupe with a mound of crushed ice.

Muddle cucumber wheels with two dashes of saline solution (10:1 water:sea salt) in a shaker.
Add all ingredients to a shaker.
Shake well with ice.

Strain into the prepared coupe glass with cucumber wheels and crushed ice.