behind the bar

behind the bar: jean lee’s summer picnic

by Ryan and Alissa Walker

$35,000. This is, I discovered one afternoon in Paris, the cost of my dream picnic basket from Goyard. From time to time, I think back to this beautiful piece of pure, unnecessary luxury and wonder what my picnics would be like were I able and willing to make such a glorious purchase. Would yellow flowers spring to life around the basket as I placed it on the now-perfect grass? Would Alissa’s head miraculously be adorned with the perfect summertime hat? Would a tuxedoed waiter appear with a slightly chilled bottle of vintage champagne (perhaps Bollinger Grande Annee 1997)?

So maybe I will never have my magic picnic basket, but at least I can get into the summer picnic spirit with a little help from Jean Lee’s Summer Picnic Cucumber Lemon Vodka (I love how explanatory the name is). I am not only excited to share this week’s post with everyone because Jean’s drink sounds amazing, but Jean also happens to be the designer behind one of our favorite summertime products at HORNE! Now, on to Jean . . . — Alissa + Ryan

Read on for the full recipe after the jump . . .

Why the Summer Picnic Cucumber Lemon Vodka Drink?
There’s something so simple and refreshing about the taste of chilled water and sliced cucumber . . . one sip and it puts me right in the summer spirit (not to mention keeps me hydrated in the heat). So for today’s Behind the Bar, I’m preparing one my favorite summer picnic drinks that’s inspired by the simple, refreshing flavor of water and cucumber . . . but with a few added twists!

With the limited sun and warmth we get around Seattle, we’re always finding ways to do last-minute picnics whenever possible, even when the sun is about to set. Quickness is critical, so when the sunny moment strikes, we grab our handy dandy vintage picnic basket and a blanket and raid the fridge for classic mason jars stocked with pre-cut ingredients like veggies, fruit and herbs. The best part about the jars is that you can portion all the ingredients ahead of time, ready to serve at a party, a picnic or after a long day at work.

So for our refreshing drink of the day, we’ve pre-cut rounds of fresh summer English cucumbers, lemons and mint, grabbed a bottle of sparkling water and vodka and beelined for the sun while it lasts.

Each jar is portioned as an individual drink with the ice, mint, lemon and cucumber sliced and all ready for picnic action. Then on site, it’s as easy as pouring the vodka and sparkling water, and you’re picnic perfect!

Makes one serving of an 8oz drink

  • 1–2 pieces of thinly sliced lemons
  • 4–6 pieces of thinly sliced cucumbers
  • 1 teaspoon of agave or honey
  • 2 oz vodka
  • 4 oz sparkling water
  • 3–4 cubes of ice
  • mint for garnish


  • mason jars
  • a knife and cutting boards to slice the cucumber and lemons
  • stirring spoon
  • a strong determination to enjoy a picnic, rain or shine!



Add vodka and honey to a mason jar. Give a nice stir. Add lemon and cucumber, and top off with ice. Fill the remainder of the glass with sparkling water, give another stir and garnish with a sprig of mint. Enjoy!

About Jean Lee: Jean Lee is a Seattle-based product designer and blogger. She divides her time between working as a partner with Ladies & Gentlemen Studio — designing and producing home lifestyle goods with a blend of vintage nostalgia and modern practicalities — and working as a partner with R&L goods, producer of distinctive handmade accessories for men and women. Both businesses are headquartered in the renovated duplex she owns and resides in with her business partners.

She regularly blogs her inspiration, news and experiences at www.ladiesandgentlemenstudio.com/blog.

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  • I know what I’ll be taking to my movies in the park picnic tonight! Also, any idea where I can get those tiny little mason jars used for the honey?

  • Wow really mind blowing.. Cucumber Lemon Vodka Drink is a summer picnic drink and is so simple and refreshing about the taste of chilled water and sliced cucumber . . . Thanks

  • I have been making this drink, but with gin, for the last four summers. I call it “the Gin & Tonic Goes to the Spa” and it is unbelievably refreshing on hot days.

  • @ Jamie: Aw…shucks…(0^.^0) blush.
    @ Jennifer: ooh, Gin sounds great, too! I’m gonna try that right now!
    @ Michelle: The container for the honey is more like those vials with cork tops. I also use them to serve individual portions of creamer or salad dressing for on the side since they’re so cute!

  • I made this this afternoon, but I used Tanqueray Rangpur instead of vodka, and added muddled mint. (Put 2 oz gin in the bottom of my glass, muddled about 4 mint leaves, threw in about 4 superthin slices each of lemon and cucumber, drizzled about 2tsp. agave nectar, topped off my glass (a short tumbler… i forget what the size is called :-/ it probably hold about 80z.) with pellegrino, and garnished with a mint sprig. It was HEAVEN in this brutal heat and humidity where I live.
    Thank you so much Jean!!! This will be my new go-to drink :-)

  • …sounds like you ought to be having Pimm’s with your ingredients rather vodka. Try it – and you’ll never think of vodka again for your refreshing summer tipple.