If you have too many garden herbs to use in your cooking, have you thought about how you can make cocktails with them? From rosemary to mint to thyme, there’s always a way of using a beautiful botanical in your ice cold summer cocktail.
They also don’t have to be fancy, or alcohol-based, you can add summer herbs to garnish your drinks throughout the season. It’s a tasty and satisfying way of using everything you’ve been growing to quench your thirst.
Here’s a selection of some of the best herb cocktails, from classic recipes to little-known gems. Don’t forget to always drink responsibly. For more garden entertaining inspiration, head to our garden party ideas feature.
Making herb syrups
There are lots of cocktails around that need syrups, and while a herb syrup should obviously never be drunk as a cocktail in its own right, it’s here on this list as a way of infusing your cocktails with your home grown herbs. It’s not difficult to make your own, herb-infused syrup you just need one cup of water to two cups of sugar, and three tablespoons of whichever herb you use. Bring it to the boil, let it simmer for around 15 minutes, take it off the heat and leave it to cool for an hour and strain the herbs out. Simple. Then you have a syrup you can use and keep in the fridge for the next two weeks. What’s more you could use your syrup in cooking too.
Our monthly columnist Aaron Bertelsen this month expounds the beauty of fruit-infused vodka. His recipe is taken from one put together by Tom Coward from Gravetye Manor and is easy and delicious. Read it here.
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Plants to use: mint (for a classic version), lemongrass, ginger (for the Vietnamese version)
A classic mojito is the taste of summer. Ingredients include soda water, rum, sugar, lime and ice and what comes out is one of the more refreshing tastes ever invented. For an extra herby twist, why not consider using lemongrass and ginger to make a Vietnamese twist on a mojito. Here’s how our friends over at Good Food suggest you make it.
Gin and tonic
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Plants to use: rosemary, strawberries, basil, sage, tarragon, lavender, thyme, tarragon
It’s the old reliable aperitif summer drink. And what makes a gin and tonic even more enjoyable is just how many botanicals you can mix with it. Always check the gin you’re using, as its particular notes may suggest particular garnishes, but in general you can add rosemary, mint thyme, strawberries, basil, sage, tarragon and even lavender. If you’re looking for more gin-based summer inspiration, here’s our list of the best botanical gins to track down.
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Plants to use: raspberries
Relying again on the wonderdrink gin, a gimlet is traditionally one part gin, two parts lime. But why not try a raspberry gimlet? You can mush up the raspberries all together with all the ingredients in a shaker and there you have it, a lovely home grown cocktail using your very own raspberries.
Tequila sage smash
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Plants to use: sage
It does what it says on the tin. Smash together your home grown sage, with a little of the best tequila you can find, add Cointreau, lime and agave and the result is a perfect sage herb cocktail. Use 50ml of tequila, 25 ml of Cointreau and a dash of agave to taste.
Bourbon thyme cocktail
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Plants to use: thyme
Use your thyme here by making a thyme syrup (see above) beforehand. Mix four teaspoons with 75 ml bourbon, three dashes of angostura bitters and lemon peel. As easy as that.
Chive blossom martini
Plants to use: chive
Chive might be an odd infusion for many, as it is much more savoury a taste than most and is a little like onion. But don’t let that put you off. If you’re more into your savoury cocktails then why not try this chive blossom martini. Pick your chive blossoms, give them a rinse and dry them, then add the blossoms, gin (60ml) and vermouth (tablespoon) to a jar and leave to infuse for at least a few hours, the longer you leave it, the stronger it’ll be. Then strain the drink and pour into your martini glass.
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Plants to use: oregano
Add oregano to your usual negroni recipe (one part gin to one part Campari and one part sweet vermouth) and garnish with your freshest oregano.
Bloody Mariana Cocktail
Plants to use: oregano
This is a twist on the traditional Bloody Mary, but with extra lime and oregano thrown in. Just add a teaspoon of lime juice and a sprinkling of oregano to the recipe and you should be away.
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Plants to use: rosemary
Use rosemary here in syrup form (see above for the recipe). You need one part vodka, two parts grapefruit juice and a dash of your rosemary syrup, not forgetting a spring of rosemary for a garnish.
Rosemary and Thyme Collins
Plants to use: rosemary and thyme
This recipe combines two of your favourite herbs into one syrup. Create your rosemary and thyme syrup first, before mixing 50ml gin, 25ml lemon juice, 20ml rosemary and thyme simple syrup and topping up using soda water.
Mint Julep Mocktail
Plants to use: mint
Here’s an idea for a cocktail without the booze. This mint julep is made with ginger ale, lemon juice, crushed ice, mint. You need to mix together the lemon juice and sugar (1 cup of lemon juice, half a cup of sugar, half a cup of water) in a saucepan and heat until the sugar has dissolved. Leave it to cool. Then pour your mixture over mint leaves and leave them in the fridge to cool for 30 minutes. Then mix this with your ginger ale and ice.