Beat the heat with this refreshing, produce-packed cocktail! This Cucumber Vodka Gimlet is a flavorful twist on a classic drink. Easy to make (less than 5 minutes!), this smooth sipper is made with vodka and loaded with fresh from the garden ingredients like cucumber, basil and a splash of lime juice.
Quench your thirst when the weather heats up with this Cucumber Vodka Gimlet recipe. Brimming with garden fresh flavors like cucumber and basil, this easy, refreshing drink is a slightly sweeter cousin to the martini and perfect for lazy summer nights on the patio.
What makes this cocktail unique
- Traditional gimlets use gin, but this smooth vodka version relies fresh & flavorful ingredients like basil, cucumber and lime juice instead of preserved, syrupy lime cordial.
- A purist may claim that gimlets should always be served straight up, but this gimlet drink is equally as refreshing on the rocks (plus it stays colder longer when served over ice!).
What is a gimlet cocktail?
A gimlet is a simple cocktail usually made with gin and something called Rose’s Lime Juice.
Note: Never heard of Rose’s Lime Juice? It’s a sweetened, preserved lime juice that you will often find next to the grenadine in the liquor store. It has an almost electric green color. You can’t miss it - literally.
History mentions that gimlet cocktails originated with British sailors in the 19th century. The ship doctor encouraged his shipmates to add this preserved lime juice to their gin because it was thought to prevent scurvy.
This “medicine” became more socially popular in the 1950’s after a fiction author named Raymond Chandler made it the drink of choice for the detective in his novels.
No offense to traditional gimlet lovers, but I'm not a fan of Rose's Lime Juice. So this Cucumber Gimlet uses vodka instead of gin and incorporates fresh ingredients:
You can easily make this drink in a mason jar:
Steps 1 - 2: Muddle cucumber and basil.
Steps 3-5: Add liquid ingredients.
Steps 6-7: Shake for 30 seconds and strain into glass.
Yes, you can! Since gin has a more distinct flavor, your drink will taste more like a traditional gimlet but be just as delicious as the vodka version.
Mint would also be tasty! Or omit the herbs entirely, though I recommend trying it with the herbs first. They give the drink a subtle flavor that really makes every sip well-rounded.
If you prefer an alcohol free version of this gimlet, simply replace the vodka with sparkling water and add a bit more simple syrup.
Expert tips for making this Cucumber Vodka Gimlet recipe
- Muddling 101: Although it may seem like extra, you should muddle the cucumber before the basil. Why? Muddling is more than just pulverizing fruit/vegetables or herbs into mush. There is actually a science to muddling that is critical to the taste of your cocktail.
- The first thing to know is there are two different muddlers for fresh fruit/vegetables and herbs: a toothed muddler for fruits and a blunt muddler for herbs. A quality muddler will have a toothed end and a blunt end, eliminating the need for two separate muddlers (this muddler is our favorite).
- The cucumber needs more pressure than delicate herbs so use the toothed end in a pressing and twisting motion to release its juices.
- Herbs require a lighter touch. Use the blunt end of the muddler to gently press and bruise the fresh basil to release its oils and flavors. The key is to use a gentle touch. If you use too much pressure, you will crush and tear the leaves and they will become bitter in the drink.
- Because this drink is often served straight up, make sure you shake vigorously for at least 30 seconds to thoroughly chill the drink before straining into the glass. Of course, you can also serve this on the rocks if you prefer. Both options are equally refreshing!
- The recipe can be easily multiplied to make enough for a crowd. Plus it keeps well in the fridge if made in advance - a bonus when entertaining. Simply set out a pitcher filled with the cocktail along with glasses and drink garnishes like extra cucumber and basil and let guests serve themselves. I like to keep a long-handled stirring spoon in the pitcher so guests can quickly re-stir the cocktail before pouring.
More vodka drinks
Or check out all of our cocktail recipes in our archives!
Did you make this recipe? We'd love to hear your thoughts! Please rate the recipe and leave a comment below. Your feedback helps us and your fellow readers!
Cucumber Vodka Gimlet recipe
- 2 thick slices cucumber cut into chunks
- 4 fresh basil leaves
- 2 ½ ounces vodka
- 1 ounce simple syrup
- ¾ ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
- Place cucumber in a mason jar or cocktail shaker. Muddle well. Add basil and gently muddle again.
- Add ice, vodka, simple syrup and lime juice to the jar, cover and shake vigorously for at least 30 seconds.
- Strain gimlet into a chilled coupe glass or lowball glass filled with ice. Garnish with fresh basil and cucumber, if desired.
- Not a vodka fan? Use gin instead. Or make it non-alcoholic by swapping the vodka for sparkling water and adjusting the simple syrup to taste.
- Make your own simple syrup at home! It's easy and much cheaper than buying it at the store.
- Use the toothed end of a muddler to muddle the cucumber and the flat or rounded end to gently muddle the basil.
- Want to try a different herb? Mint is a tasty substitute for the basil.
- Serve a crowd by multiplying the ingredients by the number of guests. Make ahead up to 8 hour ahead of time and keep it in a pitcher in the fridge until party time. Stir well before serving.
Nutrition info not guaranteed to be accurate.