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Growing a Cocktail Garden

Summer is a great time to sit on your deck or patio and enjoy all the hard work you've done to improve your outdoor space. Even better is enjoying a fresh summer cocktail with ingredients from your own garden. Many herbs and cocktail plants are invasive, so planting them in small batches in separate pots and containers can help them grow and make it easier on you. Here are some cocktail plants and herbs that will spice up (or sweeten) your summer drinks:

 

Mint

This cocktail herb comes in several varieties to try in your drink recipes. Spearmint, apple mint and peppermint are great types to try, though peppermint can be a bit strong. Mint grows best in a container of its own, as it tends to invade the area in which it's planted.

Mojito Recipe:

Ingredients

  • 10 mint leaves
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 ounce fresh lime juice
  • 2 ounces white rum
  • club soda

Instructions

  1. Place the mint leaves and sugar in the bottom of a glass and muddle with a spoon.
  2. Add lime juice, rum and club soda to taste.
  3. Add a fresh lime wedge as a garnish.

Lemon Basil

Basil is a staple in many kitchens for cooking, and lemon basil is a great addition to any garden. The lemon flavor is complemented by undertones of mint, which makes it great in cocktails.

Lemon Basil Blossom Recipe:

Ingredients (for syrup and the drink)

Lemon Basil Syrup

  • 1cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 cup loosely packed lemon basil

Cocktail

  • 3 to 4 leaves lemon basil
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 1/2 ounces white rum
  • 1 ounce fresh lemon juice (the juice of one lemon)
  • 1/2 oz. lemon basil simple syrup

Instructions

  1. Make the syrup: Heat sugar and water in a small saucepan with basil until sugar is dissolved. Bring to a boil and then set to the side to cool. Strain out the basil and refrigerate.
  2. Make the cocktail: muddle the lemon zest and basil. Fill with crushed ice. In an ice-filled cocktail shaker, shake together rum, lemon juice and simple syrup. Strain into Collins glass and garnish with a sliver of lemon.

Chives

You usually think of chives in a savory dish, but they also go great with drinks like bloody mary and martinis.

Bloody Mary Recipe:

Ingredients

  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh basil
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh chives
  • 1 1/3 cups tomato juice
  • 1/2 cup pepper vodka
  • 6 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 to 3 teaspoons green hot sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • Large pinch of celery salt
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Combine first 3 ingredients in a cocktail shaker. Press leaves against bottom of cup using a muddler or wooden spoon.
  2. Stir in tomato juice and next 7 ingredients.
  3. Place ice in cocktail shaker, filling half full. Cover with lid, and shake vigorously until thoroughly chilled.
  4. Garnish, if desired.

Rosemary

 This cocktail herb goes well with many fruity drinks, including those with vodka and wine. Rosemary can serve as a festive garnish. It also pairs well with ginger.

Rosemary Lemonade Recipe:

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 ounces tequila
  • 4 ounces lemonade
  • 3 to 4 ice cubes, frozen with rosemary inside
  • Rosemary sprig and lemon or lime wheel for garnish

Instructions

  1. Place rosemary ice in a glass.
  2. Add tequila and top with lemonade, then stir.
  3. Garnish with rosemary sprig and lemon or lime wheel.

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