Garden To Glass-Herb and Produce Loaded Drinks

 Seasonal Cooking with Rita Calvert~The Local Cook

The sun highlights the gently blowing leaves of tender young herbs in the verdant landscape soon to be graced with fruits and vegetables of the kitchen garden. Since we know you’re growing herbs along with fruits and veggies at home this season, you can use them as the foundation of your cocktails for extraordinary mixers in seconds while adding some fresh nutrients and fiber!

Turn to a bartender and you’ll get some brilliant herb/cocktail ideas.  Check out the mixologist’s herb list below after our recipes.

Watermelon Martini 

Makes 2 servings

 Ah, the joy of cutting into a watermelon again! Cool, refreshing watermelon in a martini makes for sweet perfection. Use the pulp as well as the juice for real fulfillment (and fiber). Make sure to use seedless watermelons.

 An immersion blender makes quick work of pureeing the fruit. If you’re making these libations for a crowd, you will probably want to use a blender.

Note: The watermelon pulp with juice freezes well for about 2 months.

  • 1 cup watermelon diced and juice 
  • 1/2 cup (4 oz) vodka
  • 2 tablespoons honey or agave syrup
  • juice of 1 lime
  • Lemon Thyme-2 teaspoons chopped leaves plus sprigs for garnish
  • Ice cubes
  • Watermelon slices, lemon-thyme sprigs and lime slices for garnish 

 Place the diced watermelon, vodka, honey or agave and lime juice into a tall narrow container, such as a cocktail shaker. Place the immersion blender down in the container; turn on and puree. Pour the entire mixture into martini glasses and top with ice.

 Garnish with a wedge of watermelon and extra lemon-thyme, if desired.


Strawberry Basil Spritzer

Serves One

The sweet strawberry is extra-fresh combined with earthy basil. Since strawberries are the most highly sprayed fruit, make sure to use organic if you don’t grow your own. No need to strain here as the muddled berries add a bit of texture.

If you don’t have a jigger at home, just use the conversion 1 tablespoon = ½ ounce for each recipe.

  • 4 organic strawberries
  • 3 medium fresh Genovese basil leaves
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 ½ ounces vodka, rum or tequila
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • Sparkling water (seltzer water) 
  • Ice, for shaking
  • Fresh strawberry and basil, for garnish

 Muddle strawberries, basil and honey in a mixing glass. Add liquor, lime and ice; shake for five seconds.

Pour into a glass and add a bit of sparkling water. Serve with fresh berry and basil garnish.


Cilantro Cucumber Cooler

(detoxer sans ((without)) the booze)

Serves One

Refreshing and healthy, this carefree cocktail has a zinger of heat to add to the balance.

  • ¼ cup fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 cup diced fresh cucumber
  • 2 slices lime
  • 1 slice lemon
  • Tiny pinch sea salt
  • ¼ habanero pepper, seeded & chopped
  • Ice, for shaking
  • 2 ounces gin
  • Sparkling water (seltzer water) 
  • extra ingredients for garnish

 Muddle cilantro, cucumber, lime, lemon, salt and habanero in a mixing glass. 

Add ice and gin; shake for five seconds. 

Strain into a chilled glass of choice and top with a splash of sparkling water. Serve with garnish.


Seattle mixologist Ryan Magarian, of Kathy Casey Food Studios/Liquid Kitchen gives a libation profile using some of our favorite herbs:

Spearmint: A must for the classic mojito, spearmint can be added to any cocktail, like a cosmopolitan, for a refreshing touch.

Basil: Combine it with mint in a mojito for another zippy layer, or use it with pear brandy.

Thyme: It pairs well with peach flavors and is ideal for a Bellini.

Rosemary: This herb’s clean flavor works well with gin cosmopolitans.

Tarragon: Also complements peach flavors, like peach vodka.

• Sage: The earthy, dry flavor marries well with tequila and will raise your margarita to the next level.

Cilantro: Add it to plain lemonade to drink with a Mexican meal, or mix it into a mango daiquiri.