A cocktail garden is just a fancy term for a herb garden that you grow for the purposes of making cocktails. Not being much of a green thumb myself, cocktails are the perfect incentive for me to try my hand at small-scale gardening. Here are the 4 windowsill appropriate herbs (and more importantly, their accompanying cocktail recipes) that are on my to-grow list.
Mint is the ideal plant for growing in a pot because it can often run wild in gardens. It is quite difficult to grow it from seed to start off with a baby plant (seedling) and re-pot it. A mint plant needs plenty of space to grow so opt for a larger sized pot that has drainage holes. But make sure to put something under the pot if you don’t want the sludge that drains out spreading across your windowsill. Fill the pot with a combination of potting soil and fertiliser because mint flourishes in rich soil. Once the seedling is safely settled into its new home, place the pot on a windowsill that catches the sun in the mornings and water it every time the soil looks dry.
- Puree half a watermelon in a blender then sieve to extract all the juice
- Fill a large jug with 2 handfuls of crushed mint leaves, 1 tablespoon of sugar, lime wedges and ice
- Pour 1 ¼ cups of white rum and the watermelon juice into the jug and serve with extra sprigs of mint in the glass
Basil seedlings are quite fragile so most gardeners choose to grow basil from seeds. First off ask your garden shop for coarse soil to fill your pot with. Because basil craves drainage, make sure that the pot you use has holes in the bottom. And once again, make sure youre ready to catch that drainage. Dampen the soil and place your basil seeds 2 inches apart from each other on the surface. Then cover the seeds with ¼ inch more soil. Basil loves the sun so place the pot in your sunniest window and keep the soil moist but not soaked.
Strawberry Basil Martini
- Make a sugar syrup by adding sugar to water and bringing it to the boil in a saucepan.
- In a cocktail shaker muddle (mash together) 3 strawberries, 3 basil leaves and 2 ½ teaspoons of your sugar syrup
- Add in a generous ½ shot of vodka and gin, a squeeze of lime juice and ice
- Shake it up and then strain into chilled martini glasses
Rosemary grows best from a clipping. So pack your scissors and head out in search of a healthy looking rosemary bush. Snip 2 ½ inch sprigs and get rid of the little leaves right at the stem’s base. If you want to give your little cuttings the best chance of survival dip the ends in ‘rooting powder’ that you can find at a garden shop. Then you can go ahead and plant the cutting in soil, spraying the leaves with a water every now and then. Rosemary likes to be relatively dry so using a terracotta pot is best because it draws away excess moisture. Put the pot in the sun and water infrequently. I think this is going to be my favourite herb to grow because it likes to just be left alone.
Rosemary Peach Tequila Punch
- Make a rosemary syrup by combining 2 sprigs of rosemary, 1 cup of water and 1 cup of sugar in a saucepan over medium heat until the sugar has dissolved
- Blend two peaches until smooth
- Pour the rosemary syrup, peach nectar, 2 cups of tequila and one litre of lemon soda into a cocktail jug
- Serve over ice with extra peach slices in the glass
Like rosemary, thyme is another hardy herb. Buying a thyme seedling, rather than trying to grow it from seeds is the easiest option. Thyme likes dry, sandy soil with good drainage and is not averse to a little compost. Choose a pot that has large drainage holes. You don’t have to water this herb constantly, let the soil go completely dry between times. It will thrive in almost any climate so place the pot on whatever windowsill you have left free.
Grapefruit & Thyme Infused Honey Gin Cocktail
- Finely grind 6 sprigs of thyme and simmer in a saucepan with ¼ cup of honey and ¼ cup of water
- Rim your glasses with ground grapefruit rind and sugar
- For each glass, mix 1 shot of gin, 2 shots of grapefruit juice and ½ shot of the thyme infused honey
Mrs Stitch x