World Cucumber Day: Charmaine Thio of Hendrick’s Gin

Charmaine Thio Brand Ambassador | World Cucumber Day | Charmaine Thio of Hendrick's Gin | Food For Thought

For many people around the world, it must come as a curiosity why the slightly comical notion of World Cucumber Day even exists. This idiosyncratic day celebrated on the 14th of June every year was first invented by English horticulturists in 2011 to celebrate to mild flavoured vegetable and has been celebrated by Hendrick’s ever since. We speak to Charmaine Thio, SEA Regional Brand Ambassador for Hendrick’s Gin to find out a bit more about this quirky little day.

Hendrick's Gin & Tonic Baloon Glass | World Cucumber Day | Charmaine Thio of Hendrick's Gin | Food For Thought

Can you tell us a bit about what makes Hendrick’s Gin special?

Hendrick’s Gin is made using two types of stills and infused with two exceedingly unusual essences of rose and cucumber. The Bennett stills and Carterhead stills used in our distillation process yield two very distinct distillates that when blended together and enhanced with the infusion of rose and cucumber, result in an oddly exquisite gin that is both fresh yet complicated. Hendrick’s Gin’s alluring flavour comes from the addition of rose and cucumber essences, delectably supported by 11 beautiful botanicals sourced from all around the world. This whimsical concoction produces a wondrously refreshing gin with a delightfully floral aroma.  

The cucumber in particular provides ample opportunity for expressive experimentation that pleases both the eye and the palate. It’s remarkable versatility and general oddity plays a pivotal role in giving Hendrick’s Gin its delectably unusual flavour.

What is Hendrick’s philosophy when it comes to creating their gin?

Hendrick’s is all about the peculiar and the unusual. Our Master Distiller, Ms Lesley Gracie, broke with conventions back in 1999 by using a marriage of two types of gin distillates and infusing the resulting blend with the curious, yet marvellous, combination of rose and cucumber. This was a revelatory departure from all the popular styles of gin that were being sipped upon at the time. Hendrick’s Gin is hand-crafted in batches of just 500 litres at a time, giving Ms Lesley Gracie greater control of her careful artistry. From its peculiar pairing of ingredients to its unusual production, Hendrick’s Gin is a wondrous sum of its peculiar parts.

Hendrick's Tonic | World Cucumber Day | Charmaine Thio of Hendrick's Gin | Food For Thought

Please tell us more about World Cucumber Day.

Since Hendrick’s derives its unique flavour profile from the unusual infusion of cucumber, it is only right that we hold this cylindrical being in the highest regard. What better way to rejoice in its wonder than by celebrating its own momentous day? Cucumber Day was first invented in 2011 by English horticulturists to celebrate the virtues of the gallant cucumber. Now, World Cucumber Day is an annual celebration on June 14 where Hendrick’s heroes this remarkable fruit for adding delightful peculiarity to the everyday humdrum and inspires people to cultivate and embrace their unusual side.

Curious-minded individuals are invited to observe the day each year with unusual experiences, events, opportunities, all with a Hendrick’s & Tonic in hand of course! In the past couple of years, we have worked closely with our partner bars on this special day to offer consumers the opportunity to savour a Hendrick’s & Tonic just by presenting a cucumber in exchange for a refreshing cocktail. In 2019, we had the pleasure of hosting “Cucumber Hour” with a total of 42 partner bars in Singapore, using cucumbers as currency for cocktails!

This year, we wanted the spirit of curiosity to live on within the four walls of our homes, so we took the World Cucumber Day festivities online with the launch of our first-ever augmented reality game, The Cucumber Horticulturist. The main aim of the campaign was to offer a little positivity and delightful peculiarity as we navigate the “new normal” that we’re in.

The Cucumber Horticulturalist | World Cucumber Day | Charmaine Thio of Hendrick's Gin | Food For Thought

Can you tell us a bit about the The Cucumber Horticulturist augmented reality game?

In light of these unfamiliar times we had to think of how best to celebrate World Cucumber Day despite the constraints due to Covid-19. That’s why we moved it online this year!

For World Cucumber Day this year, we had to think about how we wanted to engage imbibers without being able to physically interact with them in our partner bars. Thus, we decided to launch Hendrick’s first-ever augmented reality game, The Cucumber Horticulturist on 20 June 2020. This interactive game allows the user to take part in the World Cucumber Day festivities while in the comfort of their own home! Keeping true to the spirit of World Cucumber Day the game involves growing a virtual cucumber which can be used as cucumber currency to exchange for discounts off your next Hendrick’s Gin purchase.

To win the game, simply grow the cucumber plant by collecting falling water droplets on the screen. But steer away from the roses! A stray petal can bring the round to a thorny end. With enough water gathered in the pot, you’ll be able to grow a majestic vine with fruits ripe for the picking.

Charmaine's Cocktail | World Cucumber Day | Charmaine Thio of Hendrick's Gin | Food For Thought

Can you share with us a cocktail recipe you’d make with Hendrick’s gin?

This tipple is called the Green Thumb and it’s a favourite of mine. It’s a delightfully refreshing yet complex cocktail, perfect for the many warm days we have here in the tropics.

Green Thumb

  • 45ml Hendrick’s Gin
  • 20ml Fresh Lemon Juice
  • 15ml Sugar Syrup
  • Sugar Snap Peas
  • 3 dashes of Absinthe
  • Fresh Mint

Add all ingredients into a shaking tin and shake until cold. Strain into a glass of choice and garnish with mint sprigs.

Charmaine Thio Hendrick's Gin Brand Ambassador | World Cucumber Day | Charmaine Thio of Hendrick's Gin | Food For Thought

Did Hendrick’s carry out any initiatives during the Covid-19 pandemic?

These are challenging times for everyone but especially so for the many bars that aren’t allowed to open their doors to guests. For Hendrick’s, we launched The Cucumber Horticulturist on World Cucumber Day to bring imbibers and our bar partners some lighthearted fun and delightful peculiarity amidst the uncertainty.

Another initiative that we launched as part of the William Grant and Sons family was the 1887 Virtual Bar. The virtual bar experience was created in support of the local bartending scene in Singapore where consumers could tune in to support their favourite bars both financially and emotionally.

Named after the year WG&S was founded, 1887 Virtual Bar features weekly guest shifts by bartenders from some of Singapore’s favourite watering holes. Each session is hosted by myself (Charmaine) and Brett Bayly, the regional brand ambassador of Glenfiddich. For the past 12 weeks, people could tune in via Zoom to catch their favourite bartenders shake up some cocktails as we chatted about their bars and signature drinks. Audience members could also choose to make a donation and support their favourite bars by purchasing cocktails off the menu in the form of digital cocktail vouchers. WGS then matched the value, up to S$1,000 per bar, standing in solidarity with the bartending community. We just wrapped up our last session on 25 June and have managed to raise over S$14,000 since the 1887 Virtual Bar began in April.

The initiative was very well-received and we even welcomed bars from Malaysia and The Philippines onto the platform! It has been really encouraging to see people so engaged and willing to support their favourite bars. I for one am definitely looking forward to visiting my favourite bars around the region again soon.


Nicholas Ng

Nicholas Ng is a restaurant critic and drinks writer and is the editor of independent publication Food For Thought. He has been a freelance journalist for the 15 years and has previously worked as a lawyer and in digital marketing. He currently is the Principal Consultant of A Thought Full Consultancy, a food and beverage marketing consultancy.

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