This time of year is really where the fruits of your labor from early spring are starting to pay off in the garden. Here are 5 of my favorite creative and refreshing cocktails to think about as you unwind from your day, enjoy with friends and neighbors, or kick off the start to your vacations.
Blackberry Herb Cocktail
- 2 c. blackberries (in season now)
- 1/4 c. plus 2 tbsp. sugar
- 2/3 c. water
- 1 1/2 tsp. fresh chopped rosemary plus sprigs for garnish (you are growing fresh rosemary, right?)
Simmer the blackberries, sugar, chopped rosemary and water in a heavy saucepan uncovered, stirring occasionally until thickened and reduced by two thirds — about 20 minutes. Drain the syrup through a sieve into a glass mason jar and discard the solids, this should yield about 1/3 of a cup syrup. Place in refrigerator to cool.
When ready to serve, pour 1 1/2 teaspoons of syrup in bottom of flute glasses and top with your favorite Prosseco or Champagne. Garnish with a sprig of rosemary.
The Fuzzy Navel
- 1 1/2 to 2 oz. peach schnapps
- Orange juice
- Fresh peach slices (coming into season now)
- Mint for garnish (optional)
Mix schnapps and orange juice in to combine. Serve with fresh peach slice and sprig of mint (optional).
The Pimm's Cup (my favorite of several variations)
- 4 thin slices cucumber with skin (these should be plentiful in your garden or farmer's market)
- Squeeze of lemon juice
- 2-3 oz. Pimm's No. 1
- Ginger ale
- Lemon slice for garnish
Add cucumber slices to a collins glass and squeeze on some lemon juice. Muddle the cucumber, releasing the oil from the skin of the cucumber. You should really be able to smell the cucumber. Add the Pimm's No. 1 then the ice cubes (bartender tip: pouring alcohol directly over ice will melt the ice and water down your drink). Add ginger ale and shake between two glasses making sure the cucumbers are on top of the drink when you serve it. A lemon wedge for garnish and enjoy.
- 1 c. honey
- 1 c. water
- Sprig of fresh thyme
- 3/4 oz. fresh lemon juice
- 1 1/2 oz. gin
- Lemon peel twist and thyme sprigs for garnish
To make simply syrup, combine honey and water, just bringing to a boil. Remove from heat, add thyme sprigs and let cool/steep on the stove top for 48 hours (it'll be worth it). Strain thyme and store syrup in the refrigerator covered until ready to use.
Once syrup is ready for use, combine it with the lemon juice and gin in a mixing glass. Add ice, cap with shaker and shake vigorously! Strain into a rocks glass filled with fresh ice. Garnish with a twist of lemon and a sprig of thyme.
- A handful of mint leaves separated from the stem (10-12)
- 2 tbsp. simple syrup (simple syrup can be stored in the refrigerator and used to sweeten tea and other drinks).
- 1 1/2 oz. rum
- Juice of lime wedge
- Splash of club soda
Squeeze lime in the bottom of a highball glass, add mint leaves. Using a muddler, bruise mint leaves against bottom of the glass to release the oil from the mint. Add rum, simple syrup, club soda, and ice (preferably crushed). Stir to mix and garnish with a sprig of mint. Bartender tip: Take fresh mint leaves and add them to your ice trays and freeze. Removing the ice cubes from the freezer with mint leaves in the cubes of ice is an added eye appealing touch to the drink.
*As an added touch, dropping mint leaves into an ice tray before freezing will not only add flair but keep the mint in focus every time you sip from your glass!
While you may be more familiar with incorporating these herbs into your favorite dishes, you can find many uses for them to satisfy your thirst in a handcrafted way. So let us know which is your favorite and let's raise a glass in celebration of summer tomorrow!