Herbs are an essential part of cocktails. For some reason, mint seems to dominate drink recipes even though there are plenty of other delicious herbs in the garden. Now, I don’t have anything against mint. But other herbs that we use to give flavor to our meals are just as good at livening up a cocktail. Here are a few herbal cocktails you might not have tried.
Raspberry-Thyme Smash ~ Get a head start on summer with a refreshing mix of gin, raspberries, and thyme—along with a little simple syrup and lime. I’ve been seeing good berries around, but if you can’t find any, go with frozen.
Pink Rosemary Greyhound ~ Try this slight tweaking of the classic grapefruit-and-vodka Greyhound cocktail, made with Ruby Red grapefruit and rosemary simple syrup. A good one for brunch!
Strawberry Basil Mojito ~ It’s been a hot spring so far in my neck of the woods, which gets me thinking about Mojitos. Adding some strawberries to the mix and using basil instead of mint is my favorite variation on this cooling cocktail.
Gin Lime Rickeys With Cilantro ~ OK, so I know that some people’s tastebuds can’t stand cilantro. But for the rest of us, it has a savory and fresh flavor that brightens up other ingredients. Paired with lime, it really tastes fantastic.
Tequila and Sage Smash ~ As you can see, I am all for smashing things! Honey, sage, and añejo tequila make for a flavorful drink with a lot of complexity.
Photo by Jackson Stakeman
Summer Hoedown from Chow
Watermelon is an essential part of summer. Essential, I say! It’s also a surprisingly flexible ingredient, pairing well with sweet, spicy, herbal, savory, and bitter flavors. So when you’re slicing up a big old watermelon for a cookout, don’t forget to try one of these unusual watermelon cocktails while you’re at it.
The Merchant’s Wife ~ Watermelon, gin, Aperol, lemon juice, and a splash of club soda combine to make a light and sparkling watermelon cocktail that’s not too sweet.
Watermelon-Cucumber Refresher ~ This is one of the recipes from my book, tested out by the Kitchn. Fresh watermelon and cucumber are a great match to beat the summer heat … with a little boozy help from vodka. As they note, this one works great with tequila, too.
Watermelon Cooler ~ One of the fun things about watermelon is how well it goes with spices and herbs. In this case, a little black pepper and basil gives a little extra something to this gin cocktail.
Watermelon Kicker ~ Watermelon with cayenne and salt? Is there nothing that this refreshing fruit can’t do? Just a wee bit of heat and savoriness brings out the oomph of the tequila.
Summer Hoedown ~ White beer and maraschino liqueur are two more unusual partners for our friend the watermelon, in this intriguing summer drink.
Raspberry Mojito from A La Carte Kitchen
Summer means it’s Mojito time! While the traditional Mojito made with mint and lime always satisfies, this is the season to play around with fruit in our drinks. So here are a few Summer Mojitos to cool you down:
Watermelon Mojito ~ This is just a no-brainer. Seriously. Make yourself one right now.
Peach Mojito ~ Speaking of no-brainers … it’s hard to go wrong with peaches.
Lemongrass Ginger Mojito ~ With an exotic flavor that sets it apart from the usual, this Mojito variation can make any day feel a bit tropical.
Raspberry Mojito ~ By far one of the prettier Mojitos, with the naturally wonderful flavor of fresh raspberries.
Blackberry Mojito ~ As soon as the blackberry bushes are full around here, I’m going blackberry picking so I can make one (or more) of these!
This is the time of year when it’s actually possible to get fresh, ripe peaches instead of the rock-hard fuzzy lumps they call peaches the rest of the year. When I’m not eating peaches, I’m drinking them. Peaches and hot weather are meant for each other. Just like bubbly Collins cocktails and summer go hand in hand. So bring the two together and you have some kind of super summer cocktail!
(A Tom Collins is made with gin, so I’m taking some liberties in calling this a Collins. I guess I could have called it a vodka Mojito, I guess. Whatever. Effervescent vodka drinks don’t seem to have a special name. Or if they do, I don’t know it. Shutting up about that now …)
Peach Vodka Collins
1 1/2 ounces vodka
1 ounce peach syrup*
1/2 ounce lemon juice
club soda (about 4 ounces)
Fresh peach slices
Fill a Collins glass with ice and pour in all ingredients, one at a time. Slightly mash the peach slices, then place them in the drink. Garnish with mint.
*Peach Syrup (makes about 3/4 cup)
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
1 peach, pitted and sliced
Boil all ingredients for 5-7 minutes. Let the mixture cool, then strain out the peaches and set them aside for another use (like dessert topping). Refrigerate. Add a tablespoon of vodka, if desired, to make the syrup keep longer.
Photo by Jackson Stakeman
The Bloodhound from 12 Bottle Bar
Gorgeous, sweet strawberries are EVERYWHERE! At least, that’s the case here in Northern California. If it’s not true where you live, sorry for this completely selfish roundup of awesome cocktails made with fresh strawberries. I didn’t mean to rub it in your face. (Maybe try frozen so you can play along at home?)
Bloodhound Cocktail ~ We like to think that fresh fruit in cocktails is a modern thing, but this recipe has been around since the 1920s. Gin, sweet and dry vermouth, with fresh strawberries? Timeless.
Strawberry Mint Julep ~ This has the added fun of making strawberry-infused bourbon for your julep. However, I’m sure that a Mint Julep made with regular bourbon with some fresh berries added would also be fantastic.
Balsamic Strawberry Smash ~ Strawberries and balsamic vinegar are a great match, but I never would have thought they’d go so well with bourbon. Well, they do … and this cocktail is proof.
Strawberry Rosemary Sangria ~ If it’s party time, sangria is a good way to go. This one has some interesting pairings and is great for warm weather.
Strawberry Margaritas ~ No need to whip out the blender for this one. It’s the classic and simple Margarita with strawberries.
Strawberry Basil Mojito ~Strawberry and basil is one of my favorite flavor combinations, therefore this Mojito is my go-to drink when it’s sunny.
I used to think of rhubarb as “that vegetable people put in strawberry pie for some reason.” But then I tried some and discovered a tart and refreshing ingredient that’s ideal for a cocktail. Aside from being a bit sour, (which we know is a good quality in a cocktail ingredient) rhubarb has a mild, grassy flavor that you won’t find in citrus or other sour fruits. It has a long growing season and grows in a variety of places, so you’ll see fresh, pink bunches of it from April through September.
Rhubarb pairs well with the agave notes in tequila, so I jazzed up the “Life of the Party” Margarita recipe using some rhubarb. I developed this recipe for a Patron project about fresh ingredients via Liqurious.
1/2 stalk rhubarb, chopped into half-inch pieces
1/4 of a lime
2 ounces silver tequila
1 1/2 ounces rhubarb syrup (recipe follows)
Vigorously muddle the rhubarb and lime at the bottom of a cocktail shaker. Add the tequila, syrup and ice cubes, then shake for 20 seconds. Strain into chilled cocktail glass.
(makes 1 1/2 cups)
1 1/2 cups water
5 stalks rhubarb, chopped into half-inch pieces
3/4 cup cane sugar
Bring all ingredients to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. The rhubarb will separate and turn into mush. Remove from heat and let the mixture steep for 10 more minutes. Strain out the solids through a fine-mesh sieve or cheese cloth. You can use the mush in baking. Keep the syrup in a glass jar in the refrigerator.
A note about rhubarb: Always discard the leaves, as they are not edible.