Surreal Cocktail

Surreal Cocktail

Discover sensations that are familiar yet surprising, with flavors of coffee and orange blossom juxtaposed with cucumber. These meld with the legendary Polish Zubrowka (bison grass) vodka as a sensual base, with a touch of partially ripened banana for a light tartness.

1 serving


1 ounce of Zubrowka Polish bison grass vodka
½ ounce of Kahlua coffee liqueur
½ ounce of orange blossom water
2 tablespoons seedless sliced cucumber, peeled (recommended: organic)
1 tablespoon of banana (just starting to ripen)

Total: about 2 ½ ounces per serving (guide for glassware)

Cucumber and orange peel for garnish


Glass half of the Boston shaker
3-piece Cobbler shaker
Utility knife and chopping board
Small bowl and fork for banana (preferably garlic press or potato ricer)
Muddler (preferably stainless steel and plastic)
Fine strainer or tea bag
Shot glassware (2 ½ ounces), for service


Chill the glassware and spirits until ready for use.

Prepare the cucumber and banana:
Cut the cucumber into about 5 thin slices and dice finely. Mash small portions of the peeled banana into a small bowl. Measure the required amounts into the glass half of the Boston shaker.

Add a splash of the Zubrowka. With the flat side of the muddler placed into the base, apply downward pressure using the inside of your palm. Muddle until most of the solid ingredients are well broken up, add the remainder of the spirits and ingredients, and filter through the fine strainer into the 3-piece cobbler shaker.

Make the cocktail:
Top up the Cobbler shaker (about ¾ full) with ice cubes. Attach the top half with the built-in strainer, followed by the cap/lid (sequence prevents too much trapped air inside). Shake and chill the cocktail shaker with firm, concise and vigorous strokes until your hands can’t take the cold.

Strain into the shot glass. Garnish with the cucumber and orange peels.

[Mixologist’s notes: 1 ounce is equivalent to 30 milliliter (ml), ½ ounce is equivalent to 15 milliliter (ml); 1 tablespoon is equivalent to 15 milliliter (ml).]

Serve immediately.

Photo and recipe by Damian Sim


The fragrant orange blossom (the state flower of Florida) proves an attractive anchor to this recipe design. It also symbolizes good fortune, a good start for the spring.

Refreshing cucumber was added to the orange blossom water to add a distinctive green note to the flavor of the cocktail. This was further enhanced by the choice of Zubrowka, the unique bison grass Polish vodka. This legendary spirit was thought to have aphrodisiac and virility strengthening properties; in fact, it was banned in America till the late 1970s.

Though resplendent with fragrance, the mouth-feel of the drink was still rather thin, thus bananas that were just beginning to ripen were selected, providing a good amount of texture to the recipe.

Having used some uncommon cocktail ingredients so far, I decided to complete the recipe design with something familiar, and what can be more familiar than coffee? Kahlua, arguably one of the world’s most popular liqueurs, provided the coffee dimension to the cocktail; the sugar content of this Mexican coffee liqueur also added more body to the drink.

This helped to create an intriguing combination that is the essence of this cocktail, with sensations that are familiar yet surprising.