It’s cocktail thyme at my house.
This year, I grew a bartender’s garden in containers, and this month the concocting of cocktails began.
I have heard that using herbs in drinks is very popular on the west coast. Californians evidently do everything that they can to get more fruits and vegetables in their diets. It sounded like fun and tasty too — so I decided to try it myself.
My goal was tasty conversation starters with at least two ingredients from the garden.
At the start of the growing season, I grew the herb ingredients — mint, several different basils, tarragon, thyme, sage — in containers that I refer to as the bartender’s garden.
One drink I created is very, very green. It was hard to love as a drink. Gardener or not, this one looked like you were drinking pure chlorophyll. I decided that this would be better as a sorbet. The taste was great but the color wasn’t.
I was more successful with the drink that follows. Everyone loved it and in several different taste tests with various friends this was the drink that ranked No. 1.
It is made with strawberries and herbs. As this is a garden drink, I decided that calling it Strawberry Drink was too blah. It needed a Latin name — like flowers have — Fragaria is Latin for strawberry and to imbibe is to drink. And so Fragaria imbibus was born.
This drink is pretty, tinted slightly pink by the berries. You can drink this with or without a shot of light rum. Here’s how to make it.
8 strawberries, washed and hulled
1 tablespoon clover honey
1⁄2 gallon prepared lemonade
20 basil leaves
Light rum (optional)
Begin by muddling a strawberry and a tablespoon of honey in the bottom of a tall glass. If you don’t have a muddler, use the end of a wooden spoon.
Put the lemonade (I used Paul Newman’s lightly sweetened lemonade) and basil in the blender and purée. Strain liquid, pressing to get every last drop of flavor you can.
Pour the lemonade basil mix over the muddled berry and fill the glass almost halfway. If you want to add a shot of light rum, this is the time to do it. Add ice and seltzer water to fill and stir gently. Squeeze a half lime into the drink and garnish with a lime wedge.
One very hot, humid evening I invited a group of adventurous lady gardeners over to try Fragaria imbibus. Everyone loved it.
Comments were made on how refreshing the drink was and how attractive it looked. “Perfect for a hot night like this,” one friend commented.
The appealing pink coloration of this drink makes it look like it is dressed for a garden party.
Garden herb sorbet
(Hortus herba frostus)
This is the green drink that I made into a sorbet using an ice cream maker.
2 cups water
1⁄2 cup sugar
2 cups basil leaves
2 cups mint laves
Sprig of tarragon
2 to 3 cups lemonade
Put two cups of water in the blender with 1⁄2 cup sugar. Add 2 cups of basil leaves, two cups of mint leaves and a sprig of tarragon leaves and puréed. Strain the mix and add 2 to 3 cups of lemonade.
Pour into an ice cream maker. When frozen, I served the sorbet in little cups, which you could garnish with mint or basil leaves. Friends loved the taste and didn’t mind the green color.