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5 Herbs to Grow for Summer Cocktails (Recipes Included!)

Reap the rewards of your hard work in the garden by sipping on these herb-inspired drinks.

By Lisa Steele

Summer heralds an abundance of fresh herbs in the garden, and what better way to use some of your excess harvest than in refreshing summer cocktails? Herbs are easy to grow and many grow quite nicely in a small pot on a windowsill or in a container on a back patio. Here are six thirst-quenching summer drinks using mint, ginger, rosemary, lemon verbena and pineapple sage to give you a few reasons to get started on your herb garden!

1. Mint

Mint has natural cooling properties and helps lower your body temperature on a hot day, which is one reason why juleps and mojitos are such popular summer drinks, especially in the warmer climates. Mint is very easy to grow and does well in containers, which actually helps to curb its natural tendency to wander and take over your entire garden. Mint is a perennial that likes full or partial sun and well-drained soil.

Kate Richards, a self-described ‘cocktail aficionado’ who blogs about gardening, eating, drinking, art and chickens over at Farmhouse 38 shared this twist on a traditional mojito with me. She calls it her Mojito Sparkler and remarked that she and her husband enjoy making this refreshing drink for friends when the mercury rises.

5 Herbs to Grow for Summer Cocktails - Photo courtesy Farmhouse 38  (UrbanFarmOnline.com)

Recipe: Mojito Sparkler
Courtesy Farmhouse 38
 
Ingredients

 

  • 5 or so fresh mint leaves, plus more to garnish
  • 1 tsp. golden brown sugar
  • 1/2 ounce simple syrup
  • 1/2 ounce lime juice
  • 2 ounces light rum
  • 2 ounces sparkling wine or champagne

Preparation
Muddle together the mint, sugar, simple syrup and lime juice in a glass. Add a generous handful of ice cubes. Pour in the rum, and then the bubbly and stir. Garnish, and drink up!

I have my own twist on a mojito that my husband and I enjoy sipping during hot, humid summers here in Virginia. I added fresh blueberries to a basic mojito recipe and substitute chocolate mint for regular mint. I also like to freeze blueberries, mint leaves and water in ice cube trays and use them instead of regular ice cubes in the drink.

Recipe: Chocolate-Blueberry Mojito

Ingredients

  • 5 or 6 chocolate mint leaves
  • handful of blueberries
  • 2 ounces rum
  • 1 ounce simple syrup
  • 1 ounce fresh squeezed lime juice
  • splash of club soda

Preparation
Muddle the mint leaves and blueberries in your glass. Add ice cubes. In a shaker, combine the simple syrup and lime juice, shake and add to the glass. Add a splash of club soda, garnish with mint leaves and a toothpick threaded with additional blueberries, if desired.

2. Lemon Verbena

Lemon verbena ups the citrus flavor in this spiked lemonade recipe. Lemon verbena is best grown in a container so it can be moved indoors for the winter. It doesn’t tolerate frosts, likes rich soil and needs regular pruning, so good reason to snip a few leaves from time to time and make some cocktails!

5 Herbs to Grow for Summer Cocktails - Photo by Lisa Steele (UrbanFarmOnline.com)

Recipe: Lemon Verbena Spiked Lemonade

Ingredients

  • 10 or so lemon verbena leaves
  • 2 ounces simple syrup
  • 2 ounces fresh squeezed lemon juice (about 2 lemons)
  • 1 ounce vodka

Preparation
Muddle the lemon verbena leaves in a shaker. Add the simple syrup, lemon juice and vodka. Shake and pour into glass filled with ice. Garnish with a slice of lemon and additional lemon verbena leaves, if desired.

3. Rosemary

Rosemary might not sound like a likely ingredient to use in cocktails, but paired with blackberries, it really gives this fizzy drink a nice, complex taste. Rosemary is another herb well-suited to container growing, as it basically grows up instead of out, taking up very little space. Rosemary is a perennial in the warmer climates and enjoys full sun and regular watering.

5 Herbs to Grow for Summer Cocktails - Photo by Lisa Steele (UrbanFarmOnline.com)

 

Recipe: Blackberry-Rosemary Fizz

Ingredients

  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • handful of fresh blackberries
  • 3 to 4 fresh rosemary sprigs
  • 1 ounce vodka
  • 2 ounces club soda

Preparation
Place sugar, water, blackberries and rosemary in a small saucepan and stir to combine. Bring to a boil, then simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally for 10 minutes, mashing the berries a bit as you stir.

Remove from the heat and allow the syrup to cool completely, then pour through a fine mesh strainer, discarding solids. Add two ounces of infused syrup and one ounce of vodka to a glass full of ice and finish with two ounces of club soda. Garnish with a fresh blackberry threaded onto a rosemary ‘skewer,’ if desired.

(Leftover syrup will last in the refrigerator for about a month.)

4. Ginger

Ginger can be an acquired taste, but fans of ginger beer or ginger ale will love this cocktail from Jen Burcke at 1840 Farm. "My husband is the resident mixologist here at 1840 Farm,” she says. "I get wild ideas about combinations and concoctions, which he politely listens to and then goes about the creative business of transforming inspiration into a perfectly balanced libation.”

A piece of ginger with the ‘eye’ (similar to the eye on a potato) can be planted indoors in a container in a sunny warm spot. It can take several years, but eventually you could be harvesting your own fresh ginger for this thirst-quenching cocktail.

5 Herbs to Grow for Summer Cocktails - Photo courtesy 1840 Farm (UrbanFarmOnline.com)

Recipe: Summer Solstice Cocktail
Courtesy 1840 Farm  

Ingredients

  • 2 ounces vodka
  • 1/2 ounce lime juice
  • 1½ ounces ginger-lime syrup (see below)
  • 4 ounces lemonade

Preparation
Place all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with a handful of ice. Shake until well mixed. Strain into a glass with fresh ice and serve.

Recipe: Ginger-Lime Syrup

Ingredients

  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 ounces ginger root, peeled and sliced into coins
  • zest from 1/2 lime

Preparation
Place all ingredients in a small pot and stir to combine. Place pot over low heat and bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally. Simmer over low heat until the sugar has completely dissolved.
Remove the pot from the heat and allow the syrup to cool completely. Pour the syrup through a fine-mesh strainer to remove any solids. The strained syrup can be stored in the refrigerator for up to one month.

5. Pineapple Sage

Pineapple sage is a wonderfully aromatic herb that’s a perennial in warmer climates. It grows in full sun and smells exactly like you would imagine—like fresh pineapple. Plant it outdoors in a container on your back patio for easy picking. Pairing this herb with pineapple juice in this Pineapple-Pineapple Sage Sipper seemed a natural fit.

5 Herbs to Grow for Summer Cocktails - Photo by Lisa Steele (UrbanFarmOnline.com)

Recipe: Pineapple-Pineapple Sage Sipper

Ingredients

  • 4 pineapple sage leaves
  • 1 ounce light rum
  • juice from 1/2 lime
  • 3 ounces pineapple juice

Preparation
Muddle the pineapple sage leaves in the bottom of your glass. Add the rum, lime juice and pineapple juice to a shaker to mix. Pour into your glass over ice and garnish with a pineapple sage leaf. Feel free to add a little umbrella if you’re feeling festive!

Growing herbs is easy, inexpensive and doesn’t require much space. A small windowsill herb garden can yield enough herbs both to enhance your cooking and provide you the ingredients to mix up these delicious summertime cocktails.

About the Author: Lisa Steele is the author of Fresh Eggs Daily: Raising Happy, Healthy Chickens...Naturally (St. Lynn’s Press, 2013). She lives on a small farm in Virginia with her husband and a variety of chickens, ducks, dogs, horses and a barn cat. She’s a frequent contributor to various chicken keeping publications, as well as her blog www.fresh-eggs-daily.com, and is an avid gardener, crafter, baker and knitter in her free time.

 

Give us your opinion on 5 Herbs to Grow for Summer Cocktails (Recipes Included!).
Submit Comment »
Thanks for the recipes!
G, H, MD
Posted: 7/30/2014 3:35:32 PM
Wow, never thought of growing ginger indoors! But...sounds intriguing I think I will have to try it.
Dante, Hyde Park, MA
Posted: 7/7/2014 7:51:31 PM

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