How to: Grow these 8 Herbs for an Amazing Cocktail Garden
Oh, Summertime. The best time of year for delicious drinks made with fresh ingredients. In doing my research for this piece, I had a hard time not wanting to just make up a drink for each herb!
If you’ve ever wanted to have fresh herbs for all the tasty drinks you love to whip up, make this summer the summer you plant your very own cocktail garden. Don’t have a green thumb? Don’t worry about it. Herbs are some of the easiest things to grow! Without getting into to much botanical detail you can rest assured that growing any plant in which you only harvest the leaves or flowers is much easier than something that has a root or a fruit! You don’t need seeds for most of these as well! I did some research and found several of my local and big box hardware stores carried most or all of the plants listed below.
I’ll list out each plant, a little about it and a few drink ideas (virgin too)!
Ah mint, the king of cocktail herbs. It’s unique flavor makes it a versatile addition to almost any liquor. Mint even has a few sister plants, like chocolate mint and pineapple mint, that you can use in special drinks to really add some fun flavors!
With Spirits: Julep, Pineapple Mint Mojito
Virgin: Mint Lemonade, Mint and Lime Soda
Lavender is my favorite drink addition. I love it’s familiar earthy-sweet aroma. The color also adds a fun pop to any drink you make. It’s scent can be so strong, it’s best to hold the herb in your open hand, clap you other hand on top gently to release it’s oils and top off you drink with it. Throwing it in to a shaker with ice could really bruise it and dilute the smell.
With Spirits: Lavender Negroni, Lavender Collins, Honey Bee Martini
Virgin: Lavender Mint Soda, Watermelon Auga Fresca (add lavender)
My second favorite herb and a cousin to lavender is thyme. I love thyme for it’s sophisticated woodsy bite that adds a touch of savory to a really sweet drink. Check out Thyme’s sister, Lemon Thyme. It has the slightest hint of citrus, it’s wonderful!
With Spirits: Lemon Thyme Gin Sparkler, Raspberry Thyme Smash
Virgin: Thyme Lemonade
4. Lemon Verbena
Lemon Verbena is a unique plant boasting light citrus qualities. You could use this plant to add a citrus flare when you a) are our of lemons or b) don’t want to dilute your libation.
With Spirits: Lemon Verbena Gimlet, The Frezier Affair
Virgin: Herbal Sodas (including lemon verbena)
Rosemary is a delicious warming herb. It reminds me of the deep woods, a crackling fire and thanksgiving all at one time! If you love the straight gin and want more juniper flavor, you can add this juniper cousin to your drink and make it Super Gin! I love this herb in everything!
With spirits: Rosemary Gin Fiz, Ruby Red Rosemary and Honey Cocktail
Virgin: Rosemary Vanilla Honey coffee syrup
6. Sweet Basil
Basil is another great herb you wouldn’t expect to see outside of a pasta dish. I love the delicate licorice flavor it brings to drinks. Play around with relative thai basil or cinnamon basil to your drinks to hone in the perfect amount for your drinks.
With spirits: Strawberry Basil Martini, Blackberry Gin Fiz
Virgin: Cucumber, Mint and Basil Soda, Peach Basil Sweet Tea
Tarragon is another fantastic licorice-like herb that adds a unique, subtle earthiness to your drinks. In some ways, wether good or ill, I’d like to think it reminds me of certain cold medicines from my childhood! Tarragon goes best with neutrals and gins.
With spirits: Beet me in St. Louis (beet and tarragon gin)
Virgin: Tarragon Lemonade
Stevia isn’t as much as a flavoring herb as it is a sweetener. It boasts zero calories and is totally natural! I add a few leaves to certain cocktails instead of sugar for a fun twist!
A lot of my research came from The Drunken Botanist. Check out her website our her book The Drunken Botanist for more information about the plants that make up all the drinks we love!