Herbs, roots and exotic spices have long played a role in some of our favorite cocktails, adding a greater depth of flavor and character thanks to the natural botanicals that thrive in our drinks and dance delicately on our palates.
It all starts in the bottle: Green Chartreuse is made from more than 130 plants and herbs, while French Bénédictine is crafted from 27 botanical ingredients. Jägermeister is created from a blend of 56 herbs, fruits and spices, and even gin relies on botanicals like juniper, orris root and angelica for its traditional flavor.
Just look to your own green thumb to take things a step further. I like to mix herbal liqueurs with fresh herbs from the garden to create my own twists on summer cocktails. So, let’s enhance the classics with some fresh greens from the garden.
Begin with the most obvious and easy garden herb — mint. Mint spreads and grows abundantly, so plant maybe one or two plants and harvest it throughout the summer to make the following Mojito. Note: Burpee actually sells seeds called Mint Mojito, which would be perfect for this recipe.
Fresh Mint Mojito
11⁄2 ounces white or light rum
1⁄4 ounce Jägermeister
11⁄2 teaspoons superfine sugar
1⁄4 cup mint leaves, packed, then coarsely chopped; 1 sprig for garnish
1⁄2 lime, juiced
1⁄4 cup club soda
Pour the rum, Jägermeister and sugar into a large measuring cup and whisk vigorously until the sugar is dissolved. Add the mint and crush into the rum. Add the lime juice and club soda and stir well, then strain into a glass of ice and garnish with a sprig of fresh mint.
Basil is also so easy to grow and can be found in just about everyone’s summer garden and deck container. As a member of the mint family, it adds an intriguing clean and green taste to a dry botanical gin martini.
Basil Gin Martini
3 ounces Tanqueray Rangpur Gin
1⁄2 ounce Green Chartreuse liqueur
1 splash dry vermouth
3 leaves fresh basil, finely minced
1 fresh leaf of basil for garnish
Pour the gin, Chartreuse and vermouth into a cocktail shaker or large glass. Add the basil, stir and let sit for 15 minutes. Strain into a chilled martini glass and garnish with a fresh leaf of basil floating on the top.
Fresh Dill Bloody Mary
1 teaspoon fresh dill leaves, minced
1⁄2 cup tomato juice
2 tablespoons dill pickle juice
1 1⁄2 ounces vodka
1 teaspoon horseradish
1 dash hot sauce
1⁄4 lemon, juiced
1 sprig of fresh dill for garnish
Stir ingredients in a cocktail shaker, pour into a glass filled with ice, garnish with sprig of fresh dill.
Written by Hillary Davis for Celebrate Magazine.