White Linen Cocktail Recipe

You know how the candles at Bath and Body Works are all named things like "fresh cotton" and "flannel," and though you've never really dug your nose into your laundry, the candles smell just like how you'd imagine? That's kind of what's going on with the white linen cocktail; it's exactly how you'd imagine your crispest summer shirt tasting — that is, if it were a cocktail, and made of cucumbers, and crispy and refreshing ... You get the point.

The white linen cocktail originated in Sacramento by bartender Rene Dominguez and, as it turns out, isn't very old, having been invented in 2008. Though a new cocktail compared to many great classics, the white linen is iconic in Sacramento and a staple of the local bar scene. Perhaps the white linen is lesser known nationally, but it's certainly well-known among bar aficionados for its crisp, refreshing, heavily-floral flavor profile. The fresh taste comes from the use of cucumbers, gin, and elderflower and is topped with soda water for some much-needed effervescence. It's generally standard to pair these with lemon, but developer Michelle McGlinn swaps in lime for a slightly sour, punchy undertone. If you love mojitos, gin and tonics, or Lynchburg lemonades, this drink is the perfect cocktail to add to your repertoire for a seriously refreshing summer lineup.

Gather the ingredients for a white linen cocktail

Simply put, you'll need cucumbers, gin, elderflower liqueur, simple syrup, lime juice, and soda water. The drink will change quite a bit based on the gin you use, so we recommend using a floral, cucumber-forward gin like Hendrick's or a botanical like small-batch Freeland. Elderflower liqueur might not already be on your bar cart, but it should be pretty straightforward to find at the liquor store. Topping the drink is also your choice; soda water or tonic is the most common, but you can opt for Sprite for a sweeter drink.

Muddle the cucumber

To avoid the cocktail being filled with tiny pieces of cucumber, muddle the cucumbers instead in the cocktail shaker before adding the other ingredients. Muddling releases the flavorful liquid of the cucumber, infusing the gin and elderflower with its light flavor. This doesn't have to be difficult — muddle just enough to break the cucumbers down and release some liquid. Use simple syrup to help, if needed.

Add the spirits and shake

It's very rare we'd suggest you shake gin. Because of how delicate it is in flavor, shaking "bruises" the gin, making the taste less strong and appealing. In this drink, however, some shaking is necessary to add air into the cocktail for a lighter taste. Fill the shaker with ice and pour in the spirits and lime juice. Cover and shake until frothy and slightly cloudy, about 15 seconds. If you aren't using a clear shaker, shake until chilled to the touch.

Strain over ice

Because it's technically a highball, you can serve in a tall highball glass, but any standard glass will do here (you could even serve in a wine glass, á la Hugo spritz). To ensure the ice and cucumber fragments don't slide into your drink, strain the mixture into the glass using any strainer. While a fine strainer is never a bad idea, you actually won't need it here, and can instead use a Hawthorne or the built-in strainer on your shaker lid.

Serve the white linen cocktail

After topping off with soda water, garnish the cocktail with your favorite flavors or add in blueberries, lemon wedges, or mint for different tastes and textures. To keep it classic, drop in cucumber ribbons (use a peeler across the length of the cucumber for these), wheels, or limes. Of course, a cocktail this refreshing is best suited for breezy spring and warm summertime, and pairs best alongside snackable appetizers like blistered shishito peppers or leafy green salads like our roasted pear and manchego. Never been to Sacramento? You might book a flight after trying this cocktail.

White Linen Cocktail Recipe
5 from 30 ratings
This white linen cocktail recipe has a bright, subtly floral taste that is truly reminiscent of clean laundry (in a good way).
Prep Time
Cook Time
white linen cocktail on a table
Total time: 5 minutes
  • 10 cucumber slices
  • 1 ounce simple syrup
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 3 ounces gin
  • 1 ounce elderflower liqueur
  • 8 ounces soda water, to top
Optional Ingredients
  • lime wheels, for garnish
  • cucumber ribbons, for garnish
  1. In a cocktail shaker, muddle the cucumbers gently with simple syrup until lightly smashed.
  2. Add in the lime juice, gin, and elderflower. Fill the shaker with ice and shake vigorously until well chilled, about 15 seconds.
  3. Fill 2 glasses with ice and strain the cocktail, dividing evenly into the glasses. Top with soda water, then garnish with lime wheels and cucumber ribbons to serve.
Calories per Serving 214
Total Fat 0.2 g
Saturated Fat 0.0 g
Trans Fat 0.0 g
Cholesterol 0.0 mg
Total Carbohydrates 22.0 g
Dietary Fiber 1.1 g
Total Sugars 17.0 g
Sodium 35.5 mg
Protein 0.5 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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