With fresh herbs growing out of control on your patio, in the garden, or calling to you in large bunches at the farmers market, now is the time to give your cocktail game a little practice.
It's easy to shake up something fancy when fresh basil, mint, thyme and other summer flavors can be plucked at their peak and dropped straight in your glass.
Muddle herbs with fruit to release their flavors and scents at their freshest.
Shake a handful of leaves with liquor, citrus juice and ice in a cocktail shaker to bang up the herbs enough to infuse the drink. The little bits of leaves that swim through the strainer and into your glass are happy grace notes.
Garnish even the most basic mixed drink or nonalcoholic beverage with a sprig of your favorite herb to add instant gusto.
What is the difference between a cocktail and a mocktail?
A Cocktail is an alcoholic mixed drink. It contains two or more ingredients and at least one of these ingredients is a spirit (also known as liquor). Originally, a cocktail contains water, spirits, and sugar and bitters (a bitter or bittersweet-tasting alcoholic beverage that is flavored with herbal essences). But nowadays, the word “cocktail” is used to refer to almost all kinds of mixed drinks that contain alcohol. As now, a cocktail may contain one or more spirits and one or more mixture.
Mocktail is actually a drink that imitates a cocktail except that it doesn’t have any alcohol. This flavorful drink is sometimes called “punches” or “virgin cocktails” and comes in various varieties like frozen, hot, fizzy, non-fizzy and cream-based. Mocktails are good for children, pregnant women, recovering alcoholics, for those people whose religions prohibited drinking or for any of the guests who simply do not drink alcohol.
I enjoy having ice cubes with flowers or you can try herbs as well. These frozen flower ice cubes are perfect for your summer get togethers. Whether it’s a baby or bridal shower, or simply a backyard BBQ ... these frosty flowers will keep your drinks cool and bump up your party host cred!!
Directions for ice cubes
Half fill ice block trays with cold water and freeze solid. Remove from freezer and tip out the half blocks. Put a borage flower, which is a beautiful true blue flower to complement your favorite summer drinks, into each division, replace the half blocks and top them up with water. The flower is then trapped between the water and the ice. When the tray is returned to the freezer the borage flower will be set in the middle of the ice block. Otherwise the flowers tend to float to the top. Once the cubes are completely solid, dislodge from tray and use in drinks. Keep in mind any edible flowers will infuse a slight floral taste, so take that into consideration when choosing the drinks. Herbs can be used as well and will give a herbal taste to the drink!
Have fun experimenting with different flowers and herbs!
Switchel with Maple
This drink will hydrate and energize you. Drink up and enjoy!
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
2 Tbsp. maple syrup
3 Tsp. freshly grated ginger
2 cups water
Place all ingredients in a pint jar with cover and set overnight in the refrigerator
Strain through a strainer or cheesecloth when ready to drink. Adjust the sweetness if desire.
Pour over ice, mix with soda water or just drink it!
Strawberry-Thyme Cocktail - easily double
Makes 1 cocktail
3 ounces strawberry-thyme syrup (recipe follows)
1 1/2 ounces vodka (for non alcoholic drink add seltzer water or ginger brew)
squeeze of lemon or lime
Put all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake until cold. Strain into a martini glass or over ice.
Makes enough for 2 cocktails
1/2 cup chopped strawberries
3 sprigs fresh thyme, basil, or rosemary
1/4 cup maple sugar
1/2 cup water
Put all ingredients in a small saucepan over high heat. Stir to combine. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer for about 5 minutes, until the strawberries are softened. Remove herbal sprigs, then puree mixture in a blender and strain.