The refreshing Eastside Cocktail is a delicious delicious gin-based drink made with cucumber, lime, and mint. It's an amazing combination to sip on a hot afternoon! This drink is a riff on a Southside cocktail, with the cucumber added to make it even more refreshing.
Just as the Southside can be considered a riff on the classic Gimlet, the Eastside cocktail recipe adds on to the formula by adding fresh cucumber. This addition is inspired, as the bright flavor goes perfectly with the lime and mint.
You can also check out this Cucumber Gin Spritzer for a light summertime drink with similar flavors!
Eastside Cocktail History
The classic Eastside cocktail was developed by bartender George Delgado in 2004 at Libation in New York City. He served the drink as a highball with ice and seltzer.
Another bartender, Christy Pope, took the idea to another NYC bar called Milk & Honey, where it changed more into the style we normally see today (serving it up, without ice).
Here are the ingredients you'll need to have on hand to make an Eastside cocktail.
- Gin - I used Hendrick's Gin in this cocktail, which is a great fit since it already has some cucumber flavors in it. A London dry gin would also work great.
- Lime juice - preferably fresh lime juice for the best flavor.
- Simple syrup - you can use store bought, or see my simple syrup recipe for how to make your own.
- Fresh mint - this brings loads of flavor! Fresh is best for the mint.
- Fresh cucumber - this is really the star ingredient here! It's used in the drink itself as well as a garnish.
This is a pretty simple recipe, so substituting anything will change the taste a lot. Here are some things you can substitute:
- Gin - if you don't have gin (or you're not a gin person), you can use vodka. Technically this can't be called an Eastside, but it'll have a lot of the same flavors and still taste great. Or, tequila blanco would work as well.
- Lime juice - You can substitute the lime juice with lemon juice, which will make the drink a tiny bit less sour, but still tasty.
- Simple syrup - you can substitute in maple syrup if you don't have this on hand.
Looking for different ways to spice up this drink? Try these variations:
- Spicy Eastside - muddle 2 to 3 slices of fresh jalapeño along with the cucumber for a spicy and peppery kick.
- Basil Eastside - instead of fresh mint, try switching in fresh basil leaves. They have a similar flavor profile and are delicious for a new take on this drink.
- Eastside Highball - instead of serving this drink up (without ice in a stemmed glass), serve it in a tall highball glass filled with ice, and top it off with seltzer. This is the way the drink was originally developed, and it's really delicious this way!
- Eastside Spritz - make the drink as per the recipe, but reduce the gin by half. Add it to a spritz glass filled with ice and top with 3 ounces of Prosecco. A delicious and bubbly option!
To make this drink, you'll need a cocktail shaker and strainer, a jigger, and a muddler. If you have one, also grab a fine-mesh strainer to make sure no chunks get into the drink.
You'll also want to have a citrus press juicer along with a knife and cutting board if you're using fresh citrus. For the garnish in the photos, you'll also need a vegetable peeler and a cocktail pick or toothpick.
The serving glass I used is a Nick and Nora cocktail glass. A coupe glass or martini glass also work great for this drink. Look for a glass capacity of about 5 ounces.
To make this drink, start out by making the garnish. Use a vegetable peeler to cut a long strip of cucumber, and thread it onto a cocktail pick. (It's a little easier to use the portion of cucumber where there are no seeds). Also, chill your serving glass if you can.
Set the garnish aside and cut some slices of your cucumber. Add them along with the lime juice to a cocktail shaker. Muddle well, until it is mashed up.
Then, add the mint leaves to the shaker and muddle again, but more gently this time. (If you over-muddle the mint, it can give the drink an unpleasant bitterness.) You could also skip the mint muddling and just clap it between your hands instead.
After that, add the simple syrup and gin to the cocktail shaker.
Fill the shaker with ice and shake vigorously, about 15-20 times.
Double strain the cocktail into your serving glass (use a regular strainer and fine mesh strainer together). Add the garnish to the top of the glass, and then add on a sprig of mint if you'd like. Serve immediately.
Hint: If you want to get a little extra kick of lime aroma, squeeze a piece of lime peel over top of the drink just before serving.
Frequently Asked Questions
An Eastside is a gin cocktail made with lime juice, simple syrup, fresh mint, and fresh cucumber.
The easiest way to flavor your cocktail with cucumber is to muddle fresh cucumber. Cucumbers have a lot of water, and they release their flavor easily as you mash them up.
The best gin for cucumber flavored drinks is Hendrick's Gin, which is already lightly infused with a cucumber flavor. For a more budget-friendly option, Aviation Gin or Citadelle Gin also work great with cucumber. Any London Dry style of gin will also work fine.
You can amp up the flavor of this drink by flavoring your simple syrup. Try a mint syrup by making your own simple syrup and letting the mint steep in the hot syrup while it cools. This is the same method as my Sage Syrup recipe.
- Use the vegetable peeler to peel long strips of the cucumber. Peel until you get a strip that is the width and length you want. Keep the strip pretty thin so it will bend easily.
- Gently fold the cucumber strip into a loose zigzag, and thread the strip onto a cocktail pick. Set this part of the garnish aside.
- Add the lime juice and cucumber slices to the bottom of your cocktail shaker.
- Muddle the juice and cucumber together.
- Add in the mint leaves and gently muddle a few times more.
- Add in the simple syrup and gin.
- Fill the shaker with ice and shake about 15-20 times.
- Strain the drink into your serving glass.
- Rest the cucumber garnish on top of the glass. Add a mint sprig and serve.