• June 9, 2017

Cocktail of the Week: Rockhorse Park

Alexis Jesup
By Eric Twardzik

This Eastern Standard classic is both an easy-drinking summer highball and a simple at-home science experiment. What’s not to like?

The drink uses Bulleit Bourbon as a base alongside lemon juice and an unconventional, fascinating salted cucumber syrup.

“The origin of the drink was to make a refreshing bourbon highball,” says Eastern Standard’s head bartender Kevin Morrison. “I really wanted to play on some of the bright vegetal notes, so that’s where the celery bitters and our salted cucumber syrup come into play.”

Interestingly, that syrup needs no cooking: It’s a simple mix of cucumber and an equal amount of sugar, plus a touch of salt. Over two days, the sugar naturally extracts water from the cucumbers, producing a slushy-like syrup.

“It really allows you to have a great flavor, because we’re not changing the composition of the cucumbers,” says Morrison.

The final product is balanced by a trace amount of Campari and a splash of ginger beer. Slightly frothy in the glass, it goes down smooth with a delicious, ginger-candy sweetness rounded out by the subtle garden flavors of the syrup and celery bitters.

While a drink like a gimlet receives a full, 12-second shake at Eastern Standard, Morrison noted that an “integration shake” is used for a highball like the Rockhorse Park. That’s half the duration of a standard shake; just a good six seconds should do.

The name of the drink comes from the actual Rockhorse Park, a scenic stretch of green in Eugene, Oregon. We are sure it’s lovely, but we’re happy to enjoy the liquid version.

Rockhorse Park
2 ounces Bulleit Bourbon
¾ ounce lemon juice
¾ ounce salted cucumber syrup*
¼ ounce Campari
1 dash Bitter Truth Celery Bitters
Splash ginger beer
Cucumber wheel, for garnish

Combine bourbon, lemon juice, syrup, Campari, and bitters in a shaker filled with ice and shake for six seconds. Strain into a highball glass filled with ice and top with ginger beer. Garnish with cucumber wheel. Serve.

*Salted Cucumber Syrup
1 cup coarsely chopped cucumber
1 cup sugar
Salt to taste

Combine ingredients in covered container and let mixture sit at room temperature for two days. Strain. Syrup will keep for one week, refrigerated.

Brian Samuels