Make Herb-Infused Cocktails

My Garden Life
December 26, 2017

Borrow some fresh inspiration with ingredients from the kitchen for any celebration. With these tips and techniques, your guests are sure to be impressed with your menu of herb-infused cocktails.

Herb-infused liquor is a simple way to get an herbal flavor in your drinks. The process provides a subtle flavor that acts as a base taste when exploring flavor combinations. You can infuse flavor using anything from herbs to fruits!

To infuse alcohol at home, simply choose a liquor and flavor you’d like to infuse (basil, berries, etc.) Chop and prepare your infusion ingredient so it’s small enough to fit in a jar. Then, add your ingredients to the jar, pour in the alcohol and let it sit overnight. The next day you will have a personalized, flavored liquor to work with.

5 Popular Herbs for Drinks

To get started crafting cocktails, draw some inspiration from these five household herbs. Look at the tips, tastes and alcohol pairings that work well with each herb.

1. Mint

Mint is the most widely used herb in the booze business. Mint’s strong aroma and refreshing flavor pair well with most liquor, making it the most versatile herb to use in drinks. It can be used to introduce a crisp note to refreshing drinks like mojitos and mint juleps.

2. Rosemary

Rosemary is not just for roasts anymore! This savory herb is perfect for creating a refreshing fall-inspired drink. Rosemary has a woody stem with needles much like a pine tree, giving it a robust flavor. This hearty herb pairs well with lighter liquors–like vodka and gin–and citrus flavors. Venture beyond of the usual lemons and limes and try pairing rosemary with orange and cranberry-based recipes.

3. Basil

Basil works well in cocktails only to enhance the flavor of the alcohol used in the drink. Its flavor won’t overpower the base liquor, but basil will bring out the texture of flavors in light liquors, like tequila and gin. Don’t expect to taste much if you try it with bourbon.

4. Tarragon

Tarragon is a highly versatile herb. Its licorice-like flavor is robust enough to be used as the base flavor for a drink but also works well as a complement to other flavors. If you want your tarragon to steal the show, choose a light base like gin or vodka. As a compliment, tarragon works best with golden rum and citrus flavors. If you want to be adventurous, there are drink recipes that use tomato paired with tarragon.

5. Cilantro

Cilantro is the most polarizing of these herbs. Typically, people either love or hate its strong flavor. You should pair cilantro’s spicy, bold flavor with equally bold flavors like jalapeno or fresh ginger. Try a margarita recipe that uses cilantro. If tequila can’t make people love cilantro, nothing can.

A composite of images demonstrating how to make herb-infused cocktails - Muddling, Ice Cubes, Garnish, Infusions

Other Methods for Making Herb-Infused Cocktails

If you don’t want to experiment with infusions yet, try these other methods to incorporate herbs into your cocktails:

  • The most often used method to introduce herbs into a cocktail is by using it as a garnish. Stick a sprig of rosemary in your gin martini, and you’re good to go.
  • Have you ever seen your bartender grinding away with a pestle and mortar at your local bar? This technique is called muddling. However, you do NOTwant to pulverize your herb, as this will damage the plant and erase its flavor. Simply lightly tap until the herb’s aroma becomes fragrant and add to your drink.
  • If you’re feeling adventurous, you can create your own herb-based bitters. The process of making infused bitters involves steeping, straining, cooking and bottling. Creating herb-infused bitters makes it easier to layer the flavors in your drinks.
  • Create herbal ice cubes by mincing your choice of herb and add to the ice tray. Fill with water and freeze–the herb’s flavor releases as it melts in the drink.

Recipe for Basil Limeade with Vodka

If you’re new to using fresh herbs to make herb-infused cocktails, here’s a simple four-ingredient recipe to get you started.

Ingredients

  • 1 bunch basil
  • 1 lime
  • simple syrup
  • vodka

Directions

Prepare and chop basil until fragrant. Halve lime and squeeze over herbs. Fill glass with ice, add vodka and stir!

Cocktail infused with lime and basil.

For the Designated Drivers

While you’re making the herbal ice cubes for your alcoholic beverages, try muddling some berries or edible flowers to make a separate set of cubes for non-alcoholic options. Adding these colorful and flavorful ice cubes to soda or sparkling water is a great option for those driving.

Herbal infusions can be used to flavor just about any beverage. They’re especially refreshing used for cold beverages in the summer or for making “mocktails” for special occasions. To learn more see our article, Make Your Own Herbal Infusions.

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