4 cocktails that call for fresh herbs

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Put your mother’s garden to good use

Thirsty Thursday is created by of-age students in the Daily Campus Life section. Recommendations can be sent to life@dailycampus.com. We will respond if sober.

When it gets warmer, people turn to the great outdoors for some fresh air, sunshine and often home-grown produce. While you may be no stranger to throwing fresh arugula into a garden salad, you might be overlooking the true star of your backyard garden: herbs. 

Everyone knows about the classic mint mojito or julep, but there are plenty of other recipes that call for those crisp, fresh spring ingredients. Most of these drinks call for gin or vodka, which lend themselves well to the earthy, botanical flavors of your herb garden. If you’re anything like me, your perennial chives and oregano have already started sprouting up again like weeds. Why let those great plants go to waste? Start incorporating them into your cocktails with these easy herb recipes.

Blackberry Herb Cocktail


A blackberry sage old fashioned, made by Mereditch Steele at Steele House Kitchen.  Photo courtesy of   Steele House Kitchen

A blackberry sage old fashioned, made by Mereditch Steele at Steele House Kitchen. Photo courtesy of Steele House Kitchen

Ingredients: 

  • 2 cups fresh blackberries

  • 1/4 cup, plus 2 tablespoons, sugar

  • 2/3 cup water

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh rosemary

  • 1 bottle Prosecco (or other champagne), chilled

  • Fresh rosemary sprigs and blackberries for garnish

To make this cocktail, first simmer 2 cups of blackberries, 1/4 of sugar, water and chopped rosemary in a small saucepan. Stir occasionally until it thickens and reduces, or about 20 minutes. Strain the syrup through a fine sieve and discard the solids. You should be left with about 1/3 cup of syrup. Cover and chill until cold. Pour Prosecco into champagne flutes and add about 1 1/2 teaspoons of the syrup, or to taste. Garnish with a blackberry and a sprig of rosemary. This recipe yields about six servings. 

Simmering the rosemary with sugar mellows the powerful taste of the herb and adds some sweetness to the drink, but if you prefer to get more of the savory, pine-y notes of rosemary, you can also muddle the blackberries and herbs instead. 

White Wine Basil Cocktail

Ingredients: 

  • 1/2 cup Lillet Blanc, or white wine of your choosing

  • 1 oz. gin

  • 2 tablespoons fresh orange juice

  • 1/4 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves, plus sprigs for garnish

  • Splash of tonic water

  • 1 cucumber spear, for garnish

  • 1 cinnamon stick, for garnish

Basil is a super fragrant herb, and one of my personal favorites. It always makes a great addition to meals, but adds intriguing flavor and depth to cocktails, too. To make this easy recipe, combine all the ingredients in a cocktail shaker and shake vigorously until combined. Strain the mixture into a glass over ice. Add tonic water. Garnish with cucumber, cinnamon and a sprig of basil. Serve chilled. 

Spiked Thyme Lemonade

Ingredients:


A gin and thyme lemonade made by blogger The Tart Tart.  Photo courtesy of    The Tart Tart

A gin and thyme lemonade made by blogger The Tart Tart. Photo courtesy of The Tart Tart

  • 1 1/2 cups sugar

  • 1 bunch fresh thyme, plus sprigs, for garnish

  • 2 cups fresh lemon juice 

  • 1 cup gin

Thyme is a seriously underappreciated herb. It adds a rich, nuanced flavor to recipes. Adding thyme, and liquor, to lemonade adds an air of sophistication to a childhood favorite. In a medium saucepan, bring the sugar, thyme and one cup of water to a boil. Stir until the sugar is dissolved, or about two minutes. Stir in lemon juice, gin and six cups of cold water. Strain into a large pitcher and refrigerate until cold. The lemonade will last about one week. Serve over ice and garnish with thyme sprigs. For a special touch and extra whimsy, add three to four drops of lavender essential oil to the pitcher. 

Cilantro Limeade

Ingredients: 

  • 5 limes, juiced

  • 1/2-3/4 cups sugar

  • 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped

  • 7 cups water

  • 1 cup gin or vodka

  • Lime slices for garnish

  • Cilantro sprigs for garnish

While cilantro can be a polarizing herb, if you like the taste this recipe is perfect for a backyard barbecue or taco night. It combines some of the best flavors of the season and makes another classic childhood beverage into an adult favorite. To make this easy limeade, first muddle or smash the cilantro in a bowl to release some of the natural juices. Then simply combine all the ingredients to a large pitcher. Vary the amount of sugar or alcohol-based on taste. Dip the rims of your glasses in sugar. Serve over ice and garnish with more cilantro and a lime slice.

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The Daily Campus Life Section – Can be reached at life@dailycampus.com 

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