Nothing perfectly captures a good day than an early evening wine spritzer or a cocktail with fresh ingredients hand-picked from the garden. The days are shorter now, but the months have long since melded together. Uncertainty is in the air, but a refreshing cocktail makes it all better.
When you begin to tend and care for plants, almost always, that interest starts growing out of the plant pots and into other interests in your life. Some gardeners have become avid growers and hobbyists who also cultivate edible plants. As your passion and joy for plants deepen, you also become more intent on incorporating plants into every aspect of your life – even happy hour.
Happy hour has really taken a new meaning this year. And now, with more people working from home, happy hour is the fun time that separates our work hours from the rest of our activity at home. If you’ve become a home gardener, chances are, you’re growing some herbs and mints in your kitchen. Or you’ve thought about it, at least.
As you grow more plants, you can’t help but wonder which of them you can turn into something more creative. As a more experienced gardener, you should have a little or more knowledge about which plants are edible.
Are cocktails strictly limited to a sprig of spearmint or basil? Or could your sage, lavender, rosemary, peaches, lemon, or flower petals be put to better use?
Today we are taking an adventurous spirit and exploring all the possibilities the garden can offer. Think of rose petals and muddled leaves. Discover what you already have that can be used for your drink, or start planting these easy-to-grow plants. When the ingredients are within reach, your so-so cocktails become signature drinks.
What You Should Grow for a Cocktail Garden
We’ve heard of farm-to-table food, now you can also create a garden-to-glass experience. There’s something unquantifiable about drinking or eating something you planted and grew in your own garden. A grocery store cucumber is mightily different from the one you just freshly picked.
The rise of cocktail gardens can be attributed to the growing community gardens, farmer’s markets, kitchen gardens, or vertical edible gardens. Some houses have a beautiful decorative garden at the front yard and then a sustainable vegetable garden at the back. You can always add your cherry tomatoes and parsley to your salads, but cocktails really change the game.
It was in the bar of the celebrated bartender and author Scott Beattie that people first saw the use of fresh local herbs, fruits, and vegetables in cocktails. He became a farm-to-bar expert, and in 2008, his book Artisanal Cocktails paved the way for a new kind of drinking at home.
If you want to explore and gain a deeper understanding of the relationship between alcohol and plants, Amy Stewart’s The Drunken Botanist is the book for you. It covers the history, etymology, botany, and chemistry behind some of our well-loved drinks. It also dives into the herbs, flowers, trees, fruits, and fungi that we can grow and mix with our home cocktails.
In creating a home cocktail garden, she turned to her narrow side yard for ample space. With pots and planters, Stewart grows raspberries and blueberries ready for picking. For entertaining, she created a raised planter that also serves as the bar. Having garden-inspired cocktails in the garden, we’ll drink to that!
If you are looking to grow more plants for your kitchen and bar, start with these plants.
Golden lemon thyme
Fruits and Vegetables:
We’ve also listed down edible flowers you can use to garnish or mix with your drinks. Read the blog here: 7 Edible Flowers.
Cocktail Recipes Inspired by the Garden
Strawberry Gin Smash
1/2 tsp granulated sugar
1 lime wedge
3 fresh strawberries, 2 hulled and sliced, 1 for garnish
3 oz gin
In a tall glass, combine the sugar and a squeeze of juice from the lime wedge. Muddle with the back of a spoon to dissolve the sugar. Add the sliced strawberries and lightly muddle. Fill the glass with ice and add the gin. Top with a splash of club soda and garnish with the last strawberry and a sprig of mint.
Mix the rosé and St-Germain in a pitcher. Fill short tumblers or wine glasses with ice, add 2 oz. of the rosé/St-Germain mixture to each glass, and top with 1.5 oz. of club soda. Garnish with a strawberry or raspberry.
To quickly mix larger or smaller quantities, prepare:
5 parts wine
4 parts St-Germain
6 parts club soda
If serving in a punch bowl, add club soda right before serving, so it doesn’t go flat.
Add all of the ingredients to a saucepan and bring to a boil while stirring to dissolve the sugar. Turn down the heat to low and let simmer for another 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and allow the syrup to cool. Once cool, strain the herbs, then pour through a coffee-filter-lined strainer to remove any particles. Store in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks.
In the bottom of a double rocks glass or goblet, add the gin, Canton, rose water, and lemon juice. Add crushed ice, stir, and garnish with rose petals and fresh lemon zest.
To make the sugared petals:
1 egg white
¼ cup granulated sugar
small handful of rose petals, cleaned and dried
Whip the egg white until frothy. Take a single petal, dip into the egg white and then dredge through the sugar on both sides. Set aside on parchment and repeat. Let the petals air dry for at least 3-4 hours and then transfer to an air-tight container for storage if not using right away.
Whether you are a mixologist tired of spending too much money on perishable ingredients, or a gardener looking for fun ways to make use of their plants, find inspiration from these recipes and create your own signature drink. Cheers!