January 29, 2021
A single bloom nested in a drink or a smattering of petals adds instant cheer
to a beverage. The smell is usually mild, whereas the flavor can be distinctive.
Sometimes called the poor man’s saffron, the bright color of marigold will
hold when dried, but not when frozen.
Marigold’s flavors range from spicy to bitter to tangy. Use them raw or
blanched, fresh or dry. Heat will bring out bitterness. Remove the green and
white part of the stems before eating. Traditionally used in Mexican Day of the
Dead ceremonies, pair them with tequila!
Avoid muddling marigolds because they will become bitter.
Choose mini marigold varieties for drinks. Growing these beauties from seed
is really easy, especially since they are quick to germinate and bloom which
makes them a fun plant to start with kids. While you will love this little plant,
many vegetable eating insect pests do not, which is why we recommend
planting them near your vegetable gardens. The first recorded use of
Marigolds was by the Aztecs so it should be no surprise that Marigolds love
the sun! They will give you extra flowers if you supply them with a little
organic compost. Once the plant starts flowering make sure to remove the
dead blooms that didn’t make it into your drinks, to extend it’s flowering
season. However, know that Marigolds do not like the cold and once the first
frost hits the plant will start to die.
The sweet scent of basil and strong leaves make a great garnish. Clip off and
float a single leaf on the top of the drink, or clip off a sprig with multiple
leaves and stand it straight up in the cocktail so the leaves come out from the
top in a small bouquet. Basil micro green sprinkles also look great and add
texture in a drink.
Basil can withstand high temperatures for only a short time before losing the
purity of it’s flavor, so take care not to overexpose it to heat. You do not need
to steep basil long to impart good flavor. Cook your syrup or shrub
thoroughly, reduce heat or even turn off the heat, and add basil last.
Leaves can be muddled into drinks to add a fresh herbal taste to gin, vodka,
tequila, aperitif, and wine cocktails. Muddling basil into a drink adds flavor
without additional calories or sweetness. Muddle gently to avoid bitterness
releasing from the veins of the soft leaf.
Basil likes a lot of sun and regular watering. With a bit of babying, it will
produce well for a long season. Basil is fast growing and reacts well to
regular, heavy pruning which makes it great for a cocktail garden. The most
important thing to remember when harvesting basil is to not take just the
leaves, and to never clip it all the way back to the main stem. Instead, clip
each branch back to the last “fork.” This encourages strong regrowth and can
be done as soon as the plant reaches 6” tall. To keep basil productive, it is
important to keep the plant from flowering. If the plant is allowed to bloom, it
will put energy into producing flowers rather than leaves and the leaves will
become bitter. But all good things eventually come to an end, and when you
can no longer combat the blooms, harvest the remaining leaves to make pesto
and use the flowers as a garnish.
Trailing thyme adds instant romance and elegance to a cocktail. Clip off a 4 to
7 inch sprig and rest one end in the glass, letting the rest overhang the edge.
Thyme is hardy even after clipping. If stems are rested in water it will hold up
for hours or even days.
Thyme can withstand high temperatures without losing the purity of its flavor,
so it is an excellent candidate for syrups and hot process shrubs. Thyme can
become very pungent if steeped too long, so take care not to let your mix get
Thyme sprigs can be muddled into drinks to add a deep herbal taste to gin,
vodka, whiskey, aperitif, and wine cocktails. The leaves are hardy enough to
withstand muddling but they will be torn apart so the drink should be fine
strained after. Muddling thyme into a drink adds flavor without additional
calories or sweetness.
Thyme is one of the lowest maintenance herbs in our garden. Like the other
Mediterranean herbs, thyme is drought tolerant, likes well-draining soil, does
not need much water and loves the sun. Make sure you let the soil get
completely dry between watering. Thyme does very well in containers,
although it likes to spread so be sure to leave enough spacing between plants
and if it starts to get crowded, dig some up and start a new container. Regular
pruning has double benefits. First, you can enjoy more in your cocktails and
second, the plant will continue to grow and be healthier. When pruning make
sure to only trim the new, green growth and leave alone the woody part of the
plant. Although it is rumored to be difficult to propagate from seed, we have
never had an issue. Once your initial thyme plant is established it will spread
by putting roots down from all the branches that touch the ground. After 3-4
years thyme plants will likely become woody so it is a good idea to divide
your plants. This way you will always have a fresh plant growing.
Borage’s bright and delicate flowers attract bees to the garden and look equally
stunning in drinks. Their mild cucumber flavor will not overwhelm or compete
with the taste of drinks, making it the perfect garnish. Even better, they hold
color when frozen, for pretty garnishment possibilities year-round.
Borage can be made into a syrup, though its very mild flavor tends to be lost
in shrubs and liqueurs. It pairs very well with citrus, cucumber, and herbal
Leaves can be muddled into drinks to add color and flavor. The taste is mild
so a muddling tool can be used.
Borage is a tall plant growing up to 2’ so make sure you plant it in an area
that won’t choke out smaller plants. You will also want to space your plants at
least 12” apart as they can get bushy quickly! It is an annual but it very easily
self-seeds so you will likely get repeat showings if you let it. If you don’t want
it to re-seed, be sure you pinch off and use flowers before they go to seed.
The flowers make their appearance earlier than a lot of the other herb
flowers, in June and July, so it will be one of the first ones you enjoy in your
cocktail garden. It will also tolerate very little watering and will still bloom
throughout the growing season so it is a great choice for beginner gardeners.
The bees and butterflies love borage which makes it a great plant to plant
near your fruits and veggies.
Our favorite garnish! The flowers hold up well over time and even in heat after
picking. The gorgeous range of colors will hold frozen or dried, and the
delicate petals make for excellent sugar and salt rims when dried and
Bachelor Buttons’ best value lies in its color and appearance, though they have
a mild, grassy flavor. The petals can be used dried, ground, frozen, and fresh.
Petals can be stirred into drinks and frozen in ice cubes to add color and
texture to a drink, but the flavor is very mild and generally not the reason for
We think every cocktail garden should include Bachelor Buttons because these
tough little plants produce flowers that give all season long! Considered a
weed by many, Bachelor Buttons grow well just about anywhere and really
like rocky, well-draining soil. They often self-sow themselves in the gravel
right outside our raised beds. Like most weeds, they grow easily and are
pretty difficult to kill, which makes them a perfect flower for beginners. They
reseed themselves freely so plant them in an area you are okay with having
them year after year. They grow so well on their own and are cold hearty so
we don’t waste our energy starting them indoors and instead direct seed
them in the later winter or early fall. We generally plant Bachelor Buttons
twice, once in the early spring and then again in early summer so that we
have blooms all season long! When all the rest of the flowers have given up
for the year, the Bachelor Buttons are the last ones sprinkling the cocktail
garden with color.
The silvery color and intricate leaves of sage make a classy garnishment
when a single leaf is rested on top of the drink or placed on the side of the
glass before filling with ice, so that the leaf is like an imprint. The scent
welcomes the drinker without overwhelming. Sage is so hearty it has a very
long season and will allow for garnishment well into winter in mild climates.
If allowed to flower, it will not produce as many leaves, but flowers also
Sage can withstand high temperatures without losing the purity of its flavor,
so it is an excellent candidate for hot and cold infusions. Think about cooking
when using it, and pair it with other traditionally used herbs like lavender,
tarragon, rosemary, and citrus. Embrace the earthiness of sage by pairing it
with smoky spirits.
Sage leaves are hardy and won’t get bitter, so they can be muddled into drinks
to add flavor without additional calories or sweetness.
Sage is an evergreen that is incredibly unfussy. Even in the dead of winter
Sage will be there for you and your cocktails. Sage isn’t picky and will grow in
the shade and the full sun, but when planted in the full sun it gives you its
best version of itself. Don’t get overzealous on the fertilizer, or be like us and
don’t fertilize it at all, because the assisted growth will also lead to less
flavorful leaves. Sage is also a fairly drought tolerant plant so don’t give it too
much water. Overwatering can cause mildew issues. If given the opportunity
Sage can get very large pretty quickly so make sure you give it lots of space
with at least 24” between plants with 36” being even better! Sage is a
subshrub which means you do not want to cut it all the way back in the fall
like you do with many herbaceous plants, as you would likely remove all of
its growing points, resulting in a dead plant. The fall and winter are the worst
times to prune your sage. Instead wait until after the first sign of new growth
in the spring to prune your plant and only trim your plant back to the first
signs of new growth so that you don’t delay flowering.
March 31, 2021
March 30, 2021