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Grow a Bartender’s Garden of your own

When you are hosting friends and drinks are flowing, fresh ingredients mean you’re making the best cocktails.

Planting a cocktail garden is a great way to customize and improve drinks, especially if you enjoy gardening.

Fresh herbs elevate the taste of any drink with an extra layer of flavor. They’re easy to grow and can be planted in containers for year-round freshness.

Basil: Pick the leaves of this annual herb as the plant grows and muddle the basil or make basil syrup.

Lavender: This herb adds a lovely light floral flavor to drinks, whether muddled, infused into vodka or turned into lavender syrup.

Lemon balm or lemon verbena: Easy to grow, they add a lemon flavor to infusions and homemade mixers.

Mint: Try different varieties like chocolate mint, and remember it can take over a garden so plant in a controlled space.

Sage: The savory taste of sage works in cocktails. It pairs well with fruits like pineapple and mango.

Drinks

Basil gimlet

Typically, gimlets combine simple syrup, gin and lime juice. And this one is close to that recipe except we’ve added a bit of fresh basil to elevate the flavors.

In a cocktail shaker, gently muddle about eight basil leaves. Add the juice of one lime, 1 ½ teaspoon simple syrup and 1 ½ ounces of gin. Fill with ice and shake well. Then strain into a martini glass.

Lavender martini

This cocktail calls for lavender syrup, made simply by bringing 1 cup each water and sugar to a boil and simmer until sugar is dissolved. Remove from the heat and add 1 tablespoon of dried lavender, letting it steep for 20 minutes then straining.

To a cocktail shaker with ice, add 1 ounce vodka, ½ ounce lemon juice and ¼ ounce lavender syrup. Shake and strain for a beautiful light-purple cocktail.

Silk Grey Tie

Muddle 2 lemon verbena leaves with 2 teaspoons superfine sugar in a cocktail glass. Fill with crushed ice and add 1 ½ ounces Absolut Citron and ¾ ounce lemon juice. Top up with lemon-lime soda and garnish with lemon slice.

Old Cuban

A mojito topped off with champagne? (Yes, please.) In a cocktail shaker, muddle six mint leaves with 1 ½ tablespoon lime juice and simple syrup, each. Add 1 ½ ounces rum and 2 dashes of bitters. Fill the cocktail shaker with ice and shake until cold, then strain into cocktail glass. Top with champagne and garnish with mint.

Bourbon and sage cocktail

To a rocks glass filled with ice, add ¾ ounce lemon juice, 2 ounces bourbon and 1 ounce sage simple syrup (simple syrup infused with sage). Stir and garnish with lemon slice and sage leaves.

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