Welcome to Imbibe Magazine's between-issues look at liquid culture with drink recipes, news and more. From coffee to cocktails, Imbibe celebrates your world in a glass.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

How Does Your Garnish Grow?

Tarragon CoolerSummer has officially kicked off, which means it's time to head into the garden. Herbs are an easy, rewarding way to exercise your green thumb, and when it comes to cocktails, they're an essential ingredient. If you have a sunny spot, big or small, try growing your own garnish garden (oh, and you can use it for cooking too!). Here are some of the plants we're growing this year for prime summer cocktail season:

Mint grows abundantly and its many varieties allow for fun experimentation with flavors. It's the signature herb in countless cocktails, from the Mint Julep to the Mojito. Try mint in the gingery Sleepyhead for a new take on mint in your next cocktail. It's also great for making your own mint tea or for adding to your favorite lemonade.

Versatile basil lends itself to both savory and sweet cocktails and mocktails, including the alcohol-free Watermelon-Basil Cooler in our 2008 Summer Drinks Guide, on newsstands now. Try basil in a gin-based Bloody Mary or the Sangre de Fresca, a cachaça, basil, strawberry & balsamic drink from Art of the Bar. Or try the fantastic Honey-Basil Orangeade from our July/Aug 07 issue.

Cilantro grows fast in the right conditions, so we're alway looking for creative uses for this flavorful herb. Cocktails provide a perfect outlet for the added zing cilantro lends, whether it's in the tomato-tequila Drinko de Gallo or in a cilantro simple syrup in Kevin Ludwig's Zanahorita, or carrot margarita, from the current issue.

While sage is a long-time culinary favorite, its use in cocktails might not be as widely appreciated. Try sage in Those Bourbon Blues (bourbon, pepper-maple syrup, blueberries & sage) from the 2008 Summer Drinks Guide or experiment with blackberries and sage in your own cocktail creation.

Delicate in appearance, tarragon packs a punch of anise-like flavor that lends well to drink mixing. Lately, we're loving the alcohol-free Tarragon Cooler, which beautifully blends tarragon with cucumber, lime and tea for an amazing drink.

These are just a few examples of the herbs we'll be growing—lavender, thyme and rosemary also make excellent options for using in drinks of all kinds. How about you, what are you planning to grow this summer?


Jen said...

Chamomile is pretty versatile for drinks.

Robyn said...

I am determined to find more uses for my cilantro this year (even though my husband hates it!), so I will most definitely be making the drinko de gallo. I think a cilantro infused vodka could be pretty tasty too.

Sarah said...

I know of chamomile tea, but how might you use it in cocktails?

Chris said...

You could sub Chamomile teas into numerous Punch recipes what call for tea already with suprisingly little fuss.

It plays nicely with Honey, Lemon, Lemongrass & Vanilla also so anything that has those as flavor elements sounds good. Play around & see what you come up with...

Chris "Rookie" Stanley said...

This eGullet thread may have something for you sarah.

Sarah said...

Thanks, Chris! I'm still curious to know how fresh chamomile might be used

Chris "Rookie" Stanley said...

Perhaps a syrup or tincture flavored with Chamomile (& possibly other things)?

There are a few really old Bitters formulas (Stoughton's, Highland & German) which call for it as an ingredient, check here.

I don't know how great of a garnish it would make (only plants I've ever seen are kind of weedy/stringy-looking), but maybe it would work as an aromatic garnish too?


Dan Rousseau said...

Lavender and orange make great garnishes and/or ingredients for a Sidecar.

nola said...

I love lavender. Dan, how do you use it in a sidecar?

Dan Rousseau said...

Nola - I've had success infusing orange and lavender into simple syrup, then using a dash of it in a traditional (well, not so much anymore) sidecar.

It's an especially nice summer touch!

liz in ny said...

I would never have thought to put tarragon in a drink but the tarragon cooler on your website is my new favorite "mocktail". And a lavender syrup sounds heavenly!