Tomatoes, cucumbers, rosemary, and basil are staples to a great vegetable and herb garden, providing fresh produce straight to your table. Whether you enjoy canning or cooking with your bounty, gardeners across the land cannot deny the benefits to growing your own food. Now, gardening isn’t a walk in the park. They need a lot of care and attention and I for one am a firm believer in rewarding oneself for hard work. My rewards usually tend to lean towards the adult beverage variety and being a gardener myself I feel like there is no reason why you cannot “spice” up (pun intended) your repertoire by using herbs and vegetables of your own with your favorite cocktails. There are limitless concoctions out there, my personal favorite being The Infused Bloody Mary. To infuse your own vodka for Bloody Marys you simply take fresh garlic, cilantro and jalapenos from your garden, add in your favorite vodka and seal it in a glass container to steep for a few days. Adding this infused vodka to any Bloody Mary mix or V8 or your very own freshly squeezed tomato juice will truly make your experience one of a kind.
I've never been the type to turn down a drink so I use my garden quite often to enhance my cocktail hour. Whether it is growing pearl onions for my Martini’s or adding lemon basil muddled with mint to my world class Mojitos. The list goes on and on with all the different ways you can create delicious beverages from your garden. If you are looking for a non-alcoholic way to enjoy your gardens many uses, I suggest adding rosemary, basil, and mint to green tea. Using a glass container is best, and allow the herbs to steep with the tea overnight in the refrigerator. Also for those punch bowl lovers, you can make ice cubes by freezing crushed fruit, such as blackberries or strawberries and mint in an ice cube tray. It is my experience, that for best results you should use distilled water. That way the ice cubes come out clear and not cloudy. Feel free to peruse the tasty drink recipes if have listed or get creative and see what signature cocktail you can come up with this summer!
Blackberry Mint Julep
- 1/2 cup packed fresh mint leaves
- 1 pint blackberries
- 6 tablespoons sugar
- 1/2 cup bourbon
- 4 cups small ice cube
- 4 sprigs mint, for garnishing
- Roughly chop mint leaves.
- Puree the mint, blackberries, and sugar in a blender. Press through a fine sieve into a bowl; discard seeds.
- Rinse blender, then return puree to blender, and add bourbon and small ice cubes; blend until smooth.
- Divide mixture among 4 glasses. Garnish each with a mint sprig.
Herbal Sun Tea
- 2 tablespoons loose rooibos tea
- 2 tablespoons dried lemon verbena or dried mint
- 2 quarts cold water
- Honey or sugar, to taste
- Place tea and lemon verbena or mint on a square of cheesecloth. Tie into a bundle with kitchen twine.
- Place tea bag in a large glass jar, and add water.
- Cover, and steep in direct sunlight for 2 hours.
- Strain tea, and discard solids. Stir in honey or sugar. Serve immediately, or refrigerate up to 3 days.
Lillet Basil Cocktail
- 1 cup ice, plus more for serving
- 1/2 cup Lillet Blanc
- 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) 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
- Put ice, Lillet, gin, orange juice, and basil in a cocktail shaker; shake well.
- Fill a glass with ice; strain mixture into glass.
- Add tonic water. Garnish with cucumber spear, cinnamon stick, and basil sprigs.