Monday June 12, 2017
Turn your weekend sit-on-the-patio time into an upscale happy hour with these surprisingly simple herb-infused cocktail ideas.
Infusing isn’t confusing
Infusing liquids with herbs sounds complicated but it is as easy as making tea. To “infuse” an herb means to steep its flavor into a liquid such as water or spirits. The resulting liquid can be used in a variety of cocktail recipes. The key to the method is time. The herbs will need a little time to steep for some of the recipes. The longer you steep the herb the stronger the taste. Pretest steep times to find out what works for your taste. Once you have your herbs, this bit of preparation and some steeping time will get you on your way to herb-infused cocktails.
Start with the classics
We’ve all heard of mint juleps. Your favorite julep recipe served with some snacks makes for a summer sip party to remember. Consider adding in a berry, like a blackberry, to the mint infusion.
Alcoholic lemonades are easy to make with mixes found at wine and spirit shops or your local grocery store. Lemons are a friendly fruit, though; they pair well with many different herbs. Try mint at first, then perhaps move on to a strawberry basil lemonade. This is a drink you can make with or without the alcohol. Kids love lemonade and strawberries, so maybe the little kick of basil will open up their palettes to a little more adventure.
Move up to more herbs
Rosemary and Lavender make a nice combo or work solo in a variety of herb-infused cocktails. A rosemary and lavender gin refresher is a simple mix once the dried lavender has been boiled with water and sugar to make the syrup.
Dill does delicious things when paired with . If savory plus a little sweet is your thing, “muddle” (i.e., mush against the side of the glass) some cucumber chunks and some fresh dill to get the flavors to infuse into the tequila.
Freeze it and don’t forget it
Making ice cubes with crushed berries to use in drinks is a summer tradition. You can also do this with basil and small sections of lemons or cucumber, or with lavender and mint or any other combo you may find interesting and delicious. Boil the water you use for the ice cubes to help the infusion process and place immediately in the freezer. Add the ice cubes to any clear alcohol like rum or vodka, allow to melt a bit and enjoy.
There are many recipes on the web for summer herb cocktails. Some require less-than-usual prep but rare ingredients, some require simple ingredients but more-than-usual boiling or steeping time. And if you don’t have your own garden full of fresh herbs, it may take a little shopping to find the right ones. A little prep is worth the uncommon experience of herb-infused drinks right at home on your own patio. As always, drink responsibly. And mix well. Have a great weekend.