Patio season is here, and we’re gearing up for a sunny summer with many blissful afternoons spent lounging in the yard and sipping delicious summer drinks. If you want to craft some truly impressive cocktails at home, the secret to success is growing your own fresh herbs. The aromatics and crisp flavor add a luxurious quality to your drinks—plus, they make a super pretty garnish!
Here are seven common herbs for cocktails that are easy to grow, plus some herb-infused cocktail recipes to get you inspired!
6 Garden Herbs For Delicious Cocktails
Whether you’re into sweet and fruity cocktails, or you prefer your drinks to be simple and smooth, these fresh spring herbs will take your summer drinks from basic to breathtaking.
This classic spring herb is a favorite for gardeners of all skill levels because it’s easy to grow, and it develops quite quickly. You’ll have plenty of chances to harvest from your basil plant over and over throughout the season. While you’re probably accustomed to using basil in salads, pasta, and other savory dishes, it also adds a delicious flavor to summer cocktails.
Use your fresh basil to make a Lemon Basil Gin Smash! Take five basil leaves and muddle them with a pestle or a wooden spoon to help activate the flavor. Add them to a cocktail shaker with one ounce of lemon juice, one ounce of simple syrup, and two shots of gin. Serve it over ice straight up, or add some club soda for a bit of sparkle!
If you aren’t drinking mojitos, you aren’t doing summer right! Something about the sweet, cool, and crisp flavor of mojitos pairs perfectly with a sunny day outside. Mint, like basil, grows quickly and easily, so it’s a pretty fuss-free plant to keep in the garden. Its quick-spreading growth habit and natural pest-repelling properties make it a popular ground cover or filler plant for vegetable gardens.
A basic mojito needs sugar, soda, white rum, mint leaves, and lime. To give your mojitos a fun, extra-summery twist, throw them in the blender with some ice and the fresh fruit of your choosing for a Blended Fruit Mojito! Blackberries, strawberries, and watermelon are our personal favorites for adding to this zesty summer refresher.
Easily one of the most versatile culinary herbs, rosemary seems to pair well with so many different flavor profiles. It’s also a very hardy plant, so if we’re ever faced with some unexpectedly cold spring weather, it can usually power through without wilting. Rosemary is a fantastic container plant for decorating your patio or windowsill—a bit like miniature conifer trees!
Rosemary and grapefruit are a surprisingly great pairing. The earthy aromatics of rosemary contrast with the sour tang of fresh grapefruit juice, creating a layered flavor that’s both sophisticated and refreshing. To make a Rosemary Greyhound, make your own rosemary simple syrup by melting two cups of water and two cups of sugar on the stove, then removing it from the heat after five minutes. Pour it in a heat-safe container and add 6–8 sprigs of fresh rosemary. Let it cool down for at least an hour, remove the sprigs, and it’s ready to use! Mix half an ounce of syrup, two ounces of vodka, and four ounces of grapefruit juice in a shaker, pour over ice, and garnish with more fresh rosemary and a grapefruit wedge!
While we most commonly associate lavender with being an aromatherapy herb, it has been gaining popularity as a culinary herb, especially for specialty beverages. Lavender lattés and sodas have been popping up everywhere lately, and making your own lavender syrup is so easy. Follow the same instructions for rosemary simple syrup, substituting fresh lavender for rosemary, and use a fine sieve to filter out the lavender flowers afterward.
Lavender brings a soothing, fragrant quality to drinks and desserts, and its delicate flavor pairs best with lighter, milder flavors that won’t overpower it. To make a Lavender Bee’s Knees, add one ounce of lavender syrup, one ounce of lemon juice, one teaspoon of honey, and two ounces of gin into a cocktail shaker. Pour it over ice and garnish with fresh or dried lavender flowers!
If you don’t like your drinks to be too sweet and prefer something with a little bite, try whipping up a cocktail with some cilantro. This classic Mexican herb pairs wonderfully with lime and spicy jalapeño, and while we’re used to seeing that combination on taco night, it works just as well in a sour-and-spicy cocktail! Cilantro is one of the best herbs to plant in spring, because hot temperatures may cause it to flower instead of producing flavorful leaves.
Make a spicy Cilantro Jalapeńo Margarita by adding two thin slices of jalapeño with seeds removed, 1½ ounces of tequila, 1½ ounces of Triple Sec, ½ ounce of fresh lime juice, and several sprigs of cilantro into a cocktail shaker. Shake, strain, and serve over ice with fresh cilantro and a jalapeño slice for garnish.
Since all of these drinks have been built around light-colored liquors, you might be wondering, what herbs go well with bourbon or whiskey? We’ve found that thyme is the best herb for those oaky, amber-colored drinks that warm you from the inside out—perfect for enjoying around the campfire at night.
For a decidedly classy drink, shake up a Maple Thyme Old Fashioned. Start by creating a lemon thyme maple syrup by mixing ⅓ cup of pure maple syrup, ⅓ cup of fresh lemon juice, one tablespoon of thyme, and a teaspoon of lemon zest. Boil for five minutes, let cool, then strain. Add one ounce of syrup, two ounces of bourbon, and two dashes of Angostura bitters in a cocktail shaker, then pour it over one large ice cube.
For everything you need for your spring herb garden, take a look at our web store and pre-order everything from starter plants to soil, fertilizer, and gardening tools. We can arrange for delivery or curbside pickup according to your preference!