Cottage Garden Elixir Recipes
A tart and refreshing blend of cool citrus flavors and fresh garden aromas will become your new favorite sipper at the cottage
Gardens and cottages are quite a bit alike. They both hold very special places in our hearts. They are the places we go to get our happiness and contentment. Their foundations are built with the earth and over time, they may change by planting seeds or a fresh coat of paint. We feed and nourish them like our own children. They thank us by nourishing our bodies with fresh food. Our cups are filled with fond memories and flowering plants bring us joy. We miss them during the cold winter months and look forward to spring and summer when the sun and warmer weather return. Just like the gardens we grow and the cottages we love and care for, cocktails can change and grow over the years.
The Cottage Garden Elixir is an excellent example of a cocktail that has evolved over time like our cherished gardens and cottages. This cool, crisp, and citrusy combination was born 16 years ago and has a rock-solid foundation that has stood the test of time. The cocktail's name has changed four times during its lifetime. A few significant ingredients have changed over the years, including the base spirit, but the foundation flavors have stayed the same - cranberry, lemon, and cucumber.
The original formula for the elixir came from the classic Cosmopolitan. I traded the standard cranberry juice for white cranberry juice and exchanged the lime for lemon. The original base spirit was a citrus vodka with a triple sec modifier, just like the Cosmo. The cucumber was added to the blueprint and the “Citrus Spray Elixir” was born. I won a few cocktail competitions with this formula and I also knew at the time that this drink would grow and change.
The next name change came in 2009 along with the base spirit exchange from vodka and a triple sec modifier to gin. I also added an extra aroma component with a sprig of dill as an additional garnish. “Cool as a Cucumber” made its grand entrance and garnered another cocktail competition win. It is also featured in "The Bartender's Gin Compendium" book by Gaz Regan, 2009. I once again felt the urge to rename the drink. This is because I had changed the original base spirit taste from citrus and slightly sweet to the tart, bright, and crisp botanical flavors of gin. This was done to honor the garden and English Gin. I settled on the revised name - the English Garden Elixir.
This cool, crisp, and citrusy combination was born 16 years ago and has a rock-solid foundation that has stood the test of time.
The English Garden Elixir name has lasted the longest, eleven years to be exact. I am sharing the simple version with the folks who are attending the 2023 Cottage and Lakefront Show in Detroit. After some research, I decided it was time for a name change. I asked Google, “What is the difference between an English garden and a cottage garden"? I found out the biggest difference between the two is structure and plants. English gardens are larger and they only include inedible plants and flowers. The cottage garden uses an informal design and grows a mixture of ornamentals, medicinal herbs, and edible plants. Gardens connected to cottages date back centuries, but the cottage garden style emerged in 19th-century England. They emphasized vegetables and herbs, fruit trees, beehives, and even some livestock.
Our times are changing. Present-day urban homesteads, permaculture, herbalists, foragers, and inner-city farms are following in these ancestral footsteps. Now is a good time to rename my old friend and retire the English Garden name. To honor the modern folks who are carrying on some old English traditions, I’m introducing you to the Cottage Garden Elixir. I’ve listed a super simple version you can create at home or at the cottage. I am also including the original cocktail version which may require a little more work. It can either be zero-proof or spirited. Either way, have a good time with it. Whether you serve it in fancy glasses, Mason jars, or a gorgeous punch bowl, be sure to drink it in your garden. You get extra points if you drink it at the cottage.
Cottage Garden Elixir - Simple Version
Ocean Spray White Cranberry Juice
1 cucumber - sliced into wheels
Combine equal parts Ocean Spray White Cranberry Juice with Simply Lemonade.
Soak the cucumber wheels in the mix for a minimum of 2-4 hours. Overnight is ideal.
Strain the cucumbers and serve with fresh cucumber wheels and sprigs of fresh dill.
For a spirited cocktail - Add 1.5 ounces of vodka or gin to 3 ounces of mix. For a lower ABV version, add 1/2 ounce of vodka or gin to 4 ounces of mix.
English gardens are larger and they only include inedible plants and flowers. The cottage garden uses an informal design and grows a mixture of ornamentals, medicinal herbs, and edible plants.
With a refreshing combination of cucumber and dill, the Cottage Garden Elixir is a light and refreshing cocktail that has just the right amount of clean and crisp flavor. This ultimate home-entertaining cocktail is versatile enough to be served cocktail style in the evening and paired with light appetizers or served on the rocks with cucumber wheels layered in the ice for a tasty brunch drink alternative. It's just right for afternoon and evening sips.
Cottage Garden Elixir - Original Version
This is my original recipe, “Cool as a Cucumber” which was featured in "The Bartender's Gin Compendium" book by Gaz Regan, 2009.
2 ounces Gin
2 ounces Ocean Spray White Cranberry Juice
3/4 ounce of fresh lemon juice
3 thin-sliced cucumber wheels
1 fresh dill sprig, as a garnish.
Shake the gin, juices, and two of the cucumber wheels over ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
Add the additional cucumber wheel and the dill sprig for garnish.