Fresh herbs can completely transform your cocktail experience. You can muddle them into an otherwise basic cocktail, making it into something special and new. You add an herbaceous simple syrup to your summer highball, earning it a more proper standing. You can even just plop down a particularly aromatic sprig as a garnish, elevating the sensory experience of every sip.
Herbs always come in handy, and they’re not hard to grow. You don’t need to spend a lot of money or buy any special equipment. And your containers don’t need to be Pinterest-worthy.
In fact, it only takes a little work now to reward future you with unique, delicious cocktails. So let’s get started.
Here’s what you need:
- Seed packets
- Several small vessels in which to start your seeds (As it just so turns out, our tiny cans work perfectly! You can easily remove the tops with a can opener and poke a few drainage holes in the bottom.)
- Good quality organic potting soil
- Larger pots for your growing plants to live in more permanently
Here’s how you do it:
- Fill your tiny cans with good potting soil or seed starting mix.
- Make tiny divots in the soil and sprinkle seeds on top.
- Cover them lightly with soil and water until the soil is damp.
- Be patient! Depending on the herb, it could be weeks before you see any growth.
- Once your herbs sprout and grow to about 2-3”, they’re ready to move to the larger pots.
- Place them in a sunny spot and enjoy.
Here’s what we’re growing and how we’re using it:
Softer herbs are usually best enjoyed muddled or blended into an oil for topping your cocktail. Add a few leaves to the shaker next time you’re mixing up a Gimlet for an herby treat. One of my favorite mixologists here in Atlanta makes a gimlet topped with a basil oil and the only recipe he would divulge was that he “put the basil in a blender and ran it until it started smoking.” I’m not saying you should do that, but I am saying that I had a lot of cocktails that night. What I remembered most were the delicious dots of bright green oil topping my gimlet.
Note: There are so many fun varieties of basil—try lemon or thai for a little added flair!
Rosemary (and most other sturdy herbs) makes an excellent simple syrup. Add a few sprigs to the pot next time you’re making simple syrup, right before you cut the heat. Let it cool and strain out any leaves before you store it. This one is super versatile—sub it into any whiskey or gin cocktail that also has citrus.
Much like Rosemary, Lavender lends well to simple syrup. It pairs nicely with floral gins, anything lemony, or even vodka drinks.
Note: The fragrance of Rosemary and Lavender clings to your hands after you touch it. That’s because they have oils. Those oils are an indicator that they’ll make extra flavorful simple syrup!
Mint is good in everything, and that applies to spirits, too. It’s almost hard to find a spirit with which mint doesn’t play nice. A Mojito is the classic choice, but don’t forget a Mint Julep or a Southside.
Note: Thinking about combining a few herbs in one pot? That’s great, just don't include mint! It’ll quickly take over the pot, your apartment, life. It might assume your identity. Be careful!
You’ll be shocked by how much this one smells like its namesake. Try subbing the mint in your mojito for pineapple sage.