It’s cocktail season! You may not be distilling your own spirits but selecting the right herbs to grow can transform cocktail hour into instant happy hour. Frank Ferragine shares what herbs to take from the planter box to that margarita on the rocks.
Always grow mint in a pot, if you grow in the yard be mindful that mint grows like a weed and there will be a lot of it. Sometimes it does not grow due to the size of the pot, try going with a larger container size when growing mint. Make sure mint is kept in moist soil and in a spot that gets lots of sun. The perfect cocktail for MINT is a Mojito of course!
- 2 tsp sugar, more or less to taste
- 10 fresh mojito mint leaves
- 1/4 cup (2 oz.) white rum
- 2 tbs fresh lime juice
- 6 oz. bottle club soda (chilled)
- crushed ice
- lime slices
- mint sprig
Rosemary is a wonderful aeromantic plant that will last you for years. Start from cuttings in a pot placed in full sunlight. Rosemary looks like clippings from a pine tree with a taste to match. The rich, woody flavor of rosemary can be added whole or muddled as a featured player in gin or vodka. Rosemary pairs great with berries, so it’s best to mix rosemary with citrusy and sweet drinks.
Rosemary, Berries and Gin:
- 500g frozen blackberries
- 4 lemons, chopped into little pieces
- 2 sprigs of rosemary, leaves picked
- 10 juniper berries
- 5 tbsp honey
- 500ml Bombay Sapphire gin
- 1 litre soda water
When growing Basil make sure to keep it away from windy spots and be sure it gets plenty of water and sunlight. Harvest leaves from the top a few at a time so the plant will have continued healthy growth throughout the summer and beyond. Basil has a taste that can be sweet, peppery or citrus-y with clove overtones that pairs specifically well with strawberries and will work well with light spirits such as gin or vodka.
Strawberry, Basil and Vodka:
- 3 Basil Leaves
- 2 oz. Strawberry Syrup (strawberries, honey, lime juice)
- 2 oz. Vodka
- 2 oz. Lemon-Lime Soda or Club Soda – chilled
- Optional Garnishes: Lime Wedges, Sliced Strawberries, Basil Leaves, Sugar for Rim
Make sure to plant dill before the start of spring and be sure to harvest early on in the season. Dill likes to be grown in cooler conditions. Sow the seeds directly in the ground from April through May, after all danger of frost has passed. Plant dill in full sun and protect it from strong winds. However dill can grow fairly well in poor soil conditions. In terms of cocktails, add dill to vodka to give it a wonderfully fresh taste. When we think of dill, we think pickles, so try pairing it with cucumber for a nice refreshing cocktail.
Cucumber and Dill with Gin Fizz:
- 2 oz. gin
- 1 oz. freshly squeezed lime juice
- 3 oz. club soda or sparkling water
- fresh dill
- 4 round cucumber slices (save one for garnish)
Cilantro is not an easy plant to grow and requires full sun. It grows the best in hot weather in a well-drained, moist soil. As much as some people complain that cilantro has a soapy taste, it delivers a full flavor if you do it right. Combine it with tequila to get the best out of its tropical vibe.
- 1 tsp cilantro leaves washed and removed from stems
- ½ lime cut into quarters
- 1 tsp raw sugar
- 2 fl oz. silver tequila
- Seltzer water
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