Grow your own cocktail garden
Gardening leave you shaken and stirred? Raise the bar by growing your own cocktail garnishes. It's practically idiot proof. Dig in, make mine a Mojito.
Gardening is not in my DNA, but this year I’m digging in and creating my very own cocktail garden. Don’t panic, I’m not replacing blooms for booze, but I am going to grow garnish to freshly pick and plop in a glass for balmy sundowners (in my dreams right now).
While the pandemic has left us shaken and stirred, Zoom cocktail parties kept us going and throwing homegrown herbs and ingredients in your cocktails and mocktails is a huge trend in 2021. So to kickstart your botanical bar, Squires Garden Centre in Wokingham has suggested the best plants to grow (all good for raised beds and containers) to ensure you get garden to glass success – plus we’ve added five cocktail recipes made using local tipples to help you get the party started.
WHAT DO YOU NEED FOR YOUR BOTANICAL BAR?
Think about your favourite cocktails, make a note of the garnishes and plant away. Herbs are the obvious choice, but you can also grow berries, tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers. Whatever your space allows.
- Rhubarb (great in a Martini)
- Strawberries (to pop into a Pimms or a Strawberry & Basil Infused Lemonade)
- Apple (tasty in Pimms or in a Martini)
- Peach (add to champagne to create a Bellini)
- Blueberry (perfect for muddling, or for making syrups to use in blueberry cocktails)
- Cucumber (for Dill & Cucumber Gin Fizz or put in a Pimms)
- Mint (for Mojitos, Pimms and Mint Julep)
- Basil (use a few fresh leaves as a garnish)
- Rosemary (for infusions, syrups or muddling)
- Thyme (essential in an Orange & Thyme Mocktail)
- Dill (to create a Dill & Cucumber Gin Fizz)
An all time classic refreshing rum based cocktail bursting with lime, mint and a touch of sweetness.
- 50ml Thameside Signature Blend
- 1/2 Fresh Lime
- 10-12 Fresh mint leaves
- 2 Barspoons (1 teaspoon) brown sugar
- Soda water
- Crushed ice
- Slice the lime into quarters and to a highball glass with the brown sugar
- Muddle the lime and sugar with the back end of a bar spoon to release the lime juice and then stir until the sugar is dissolved.
- Tear the mint leaves and the glass and continue to muddle
- Half fill the glass with crushed ice and add the rum and stir well
- Add more crushed ice until the glass is almost full and stir again
- Finish with a splash of soda water before garnishing with a sprig of mint and a lime quarter.
Summer in a glass. This refreshing naturally sweet cocktail is perfect for sunny afternoons in the garden.
- 40ml Berkshire Botanical Rhubarb and Raspberry Gin
- 5ml Rhubarb Syrup
- 100ml Stanlake Park sparkling Wine
- 50ml Soda
- Fresh rhubarb slice
- Add the Rhubarb and Raspberry Gin and Syrup to a wine glass over cubed ice and stir.
- Slowly add the sparkling wine and the soda water, then gently stir.
- Finish by adding a slice of fresh rhubarb to garnish.
A classic with a twist that’ll leave you tickled pink. Garnish with a slice of burnt orange and a sprig of thyme to serve.
- 35ml Cricketers Berry Blush Gin
- 25ml rose vermouth , or sweet white vermouth
- 15ml Aperol
- Wedge of burnt orange and a sprig of thyme, to garnish
- Combine the pink gin, vermouth and Aperol in a tumbler with a small handful of ice.
- Stir until the outside of the glass feels cold.
- Garnish with a slice of burnt orange and a sprig of thyme.
DILL & CUCUMBER GIN FIZZ
- 60ml 137 Gin Berkshire Dry
- 30ml lime juice
- 85ml club soda
- A few freshly picked dill sprigs
- 4 cucumber slices (plus one for garnish)
- In a short glass, add 3 slices of cucumber, gin, lime juice and a few sprigs of dill (removed from the stem).
- Muddle until the cucumber starts to break up.
- Add ice and top with club soda.
- Garnish with a sprig of dill and a cucumber wedge and serve.
STRAWBERRY & BASIL INFUSED LEMONADE
- 30ml lemon juice
- 85ml club soda
- 30ml strawberry puree
- 60ml vodka (optional)
- A few fresh basil leaves for garnish
- Strawberry chunks for garnish
- Mix together vodka (optional), strawberry puree, ice and lemon juice in a highball glass or mason jar.
- Top with club soda until the glass is full.
- Garnish with strawberry slices and basil leaves.
- Note: the sweetness of this drink will vary depending on the ripeness of your strawberries. If your berries are early in the season and a little bit tart, you may wish to add a little more puree, and if they’re fully ripe, then you may wish to decrease the puree.
Squire’s has a wide range of fruit plants and herbs to help you create your own cocktail garden at home. Buy plants in-store or online for local delivery at www.squiresgardencentres.co.uk