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.

Suggested For You


Leave a Reply

Design*Sponge reserves the right to restrict comments that do not contribute constructively to the conversation at hand, that comment on people's physical appearance, contain profanity, personal attacks, hate speech or seek to promote a personal or unrelated business. Our goal is to create a safe space where everyone (commenters, subjects of posts and moderators) feels comfortable to speak. Please treat others the way you would like to be treated and be willing to take responsibility for the impact your words may have on others. Disagreement, differences of opinion and heated discussion are welcome, but comments that do not seek to have a mature and constructive dialogue will not be published. We moderate all comments with great care and do not delete any lightly. Please note that our team (writers, moderators and guests) deserve the same right to speak and respond as you do, and your comments may be responded to or disagreed with. These guidelines help us maintain a safe space and work toward our goal of connecting with and learning from each other.