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Is this the taste of Sacramento summer?

Recipe: White Linen cocktail with fresh cucumber and lemon

The White Linen cocktail was invented in Sacramento.
(Photos: Debbie Arrington)

Is cucumber and lemon really the taste of Sacramento? The combination is undoubtedly refreshing and fills this cocktail with both flavor and fragrance.

Debuting during Sacramento’s 2008 Cocktail Week, the White Linen has been getting a lot of buzz lately. The New York Times featured it as the “signature cocktail of Sacramento.” Raley’s announced it will be marketing a pre-made White Linen mix.

Invented by mixologist Rene Dominguez of Ella’s Dining Room and Shady Lady Saloon, the White Linen starts with dry gin. Dominguez recommends Hendrick’s, which has a cucumber note to its base. Elderflower liqueur (such as St. Germain) adds hints of pear and elderberry. (Although those are French elderflowers used in St. Germain, elderberry is native to the Sierra foothills and grows well in Sacramento, so that’s anther nod to its hometown.)

Cucumbers and lemon add summery bursts of flavor. Cutting up the cucumber and giving it a good long shake muddles the veggie and releases its flavor into the gin. The result is a very sophisticated, grown-up cucumber-lemonade; kind of like cucumber water with a kick.

Does it taste like Sacramento? You be the judge.

Cucumber and lemon on a cutting board
Cucumber and lemon: How refreshing!

White Linen cocktail

Makes 2 servings


½ fresh cucumber

1 lemon

2 tablespoons simple syrup* or powdered sugar

3 ounces (2 jiggers) dry gin

1 ounce (2 tablespoons) elderflower liqueur


Sparkling water


Slice six thin slices of cucumber for garnish; set aside. Chop the remaining cucumber into 1/2-inch pieces.

Juice lemon. To the juice, add simple syrup or powdered sugar. Mix to dissolve.

Overhead view of cocktail glass on white napkin
Toast midsummer with a White Linen.

Fill a cocktail shaker halfway with ice. Add the gin, elderflower liqueur, lemon mixture and chopped cucumber. Cover and shake 15 to 30 seconds.

Fill two tall glasses with ice. Pour mixture through strainer over ice, equally dividing between glasses. Add sparkling water and stir. Add reserved cucumber slices as garnish. Serve immediately.

* To make simple syrup: In a small saucepan, dissolve ½ cup sugar in ½ cup water. Bring to boil and boil 1 minute. Let cool before using. Store in refrigerator.

Easy variation: Substitute Sprite for sparkling water. Omit simple syrup or powdered sugar. Result is more citrus-y.


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For week of Nov. 26:

Concentrate on helping your garden stay comfortable during these frosty nights – and clean up all those leaves!

* Irrigate frost-tender plants such as citrus in the late afternoon. That extra soil moisture increases temperatures around the plant a few degrees, just enough to prevent frost damage. The exception are succulents; too much water before frost can cause them to freeze.

* Cover sensitive plants before the sun goes down. Use cloth sheets or frost cloths, not plastic sheeting, to hold in warmth. Make sure to remove covers in the morning.

* Use fall leaves as mulch around shrubs and vegetables. Mulch acts as a blanket and keeps roots warmer.

* Stop dead-heading; let rose hips form on bushes to prompt dormancy.

* Prune non-flowering trees and shrubs.

* Clean and sharpen garden tools before storing for the winter.

* Brighten the holidays with winter bloomers such as poinsettias, amaryllis, calendulas, Iceland poppies, pansies and primroses.

* Keep poinsettias in a sunny, warm location – and definitely indoors overnight. Water thoroughly. After the holidays, feed your plants monthly so they’ll bloom again next December.

* Rake and remove dead leaves and stems from dormant perennials.

* Plant spring bulbs. Don’t forget the tulips chilling in the refrigerator. Daffodils can be planted without pre-chilling.

* This is also a good time to seed wildflowers and plant such spring bloomers as sweet peas, sweet alyssum and bachelor buttons.

* Plant trees and shrubs. They’ll benefit from fall and winter rains while establishing their roots.

* Set out cool-weather annuals such as pansies and snapdragons.

* Lettuce, cabbage and broccoli also can be planted now.

* Plant garlic and onions.

* Bare-root season begins now. Plant bare-root berries, kiwifruit, grapes, artichokes, horseradish and rhubarb.

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