Spring is just around the corner, and it’s the perfect time to start thinking about sprucing up the garden. If you are planning your season’s planting, making delicious cocktails may not have been at the forefront of your mind. However, adding some freshly grown herbs to your drinks can take them to a whole new level.
Most common herbs grow easily in containers or borders with good quality well drained soil and plenty of sunlight. Here’s a look at some of the best herbs to grow for a uniquely flavoured cocktail to enjoy on a sunny spring day.
Basil is the ideal cocktail herb, with its subtle yet distinctive flavour making it a very popular ingredient, and also an attractive garnish. The floral taste with overtones of peppermint works well with citrus fruits and sweeter flavours as well.
Basil Smash is a cocktail made from gin, lemon juice, cane syrup, and fresh basil leaves. In fact, the more basil, the better. Muddle about 12 fresh basil leaves together with the lemon juice and syrup, either by using a muddler, or balling them up and clapping your hands together to release the flavours.
Remember that you are just trying to get the oil flowing and create that nice green colour for your drink, rather than completely destroying the herbs, so use a light touch. Next, add ice and gin to the shaker, and shake until well mixed. Strain into an old fashioned glass and garnish with three fresh basil leaves. For best results, pre-chill the glass and serve with ice.
Mint is one of the most versatile cocktail herbs, and it is the perfect complement to citrus based drinks. It’s super easy to grow; in fact your main problem could be keeping it in check, so it’s best to grow in a container unless you have a large dedicated herb patch in your garden.
You could use freshly picked mint to make the perfect mojito. This classic cocktail is made from rum, lime juice, sugar, soda water, and muddled mint, with a few leaves for the garnish. Gently muddle the mint leaves with the sugar and a splash of soda, until the peppermint oils are released and the sugar dissolves.
Squeeze in the lime juice, add the rum, and stir well. Top up with soda water, add plenty of ice and the leaves for garnish, and enjoy!
Lavender gives a unique floral twist to a cocktail, and an eye-catching amethyst hue. It works particularly well with gin based cocktails. One of the favourites is the Lavender Bee’s Knees, which is made with gin, honey, and simple syrup. It’s a version of the classic Bee’s Knees Cocktail, and is easy to make.
Blend some dried or fresh lavender flowers with the simple syrup and gin over heat to infuse the flavours. Leave the mixture to chill, and then shake with lemon and ice for about 30 seconds. Serve in a chilled glass for a refreshing drink.
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