How to Grow Your Own Cocktail Garden

How does your cocktail garden grow, and what kind of creative libations will you mix up for your garden-to-glass experience? Go shake things up.

Updated on January 31, 2018 15:01 pm

Robin Horton

How to Grow Your Own Cocktail Garden

"Garden-to-glass" cocktails include herbs, fruits, and vegetables freshly plucked one moment and the next becoming part of a cocktail. Many hotels, restaurants, and bars now create their own botanical cocktails and infused spirits, sometimes made with ingredients from the properties’ own cocktail gardens.

Drinks made from plants are not something new. Rum is made from sugarcane; tequila from agave; and whiskey from barley, corn, rye, and wheat. One can make vodka from a wide variety of things including potatoes, grains, and fruit, whereas gin is generally made from neutral spirits infused with juniper.

How to: Mason Jar Garden Cocktails

How to: Blueberry Mojito

Cocktail Gardens: Great for the Space-Deprived

Cocktail gardens require extremely little space. A few containers on a balcony or terrace or a small raised bed will enable you to grow a variety of ingredients to mix up your own intoxicating garden-to-glass drinks.

How to: Herb-infused syrups

How to grow a cocktail garden

As with any garden plan, begin by choosing flavours you enjoy and then plant for your particular climate. Amy Stewart, author of The Drunken Botanist, suggests that you simply plant to your taste. Just about any plant can make its way into a cocktail, especially if it’s just steps from your kitchen or bar. Do you like grenadine, and will pomegranates grow in your planting zone? When you grow your own ingredients, your cocktails will be seasonal like your garden. Think strawberries in early spring, watermelon in summer.

If you’re adventurous, consider making your own shrubs. But not the kind you grow in the garden. In bartending lingo, a shrub is a concentrated syrup of fruit, sugar, and vinegar. Sometimes called "drinking vinegars," they are sweet acidic mixers for a number of drinks and often include herbs and spices to create interesting flavour combinations.

Shrubs mix well with acidic fruit juices as well as with clear sodas like club soda or ginger ale. Some mixologists who craft their own serve them alone, topped off with a bit of cold water.

Shake it up!

Experiment on your own. Cocktails with cayenne pepper seem to be the rage these days, so if you gravitate toward the spicy, try concocting your own version to knock someone’s socks off. Garnish with a hot chili pepper. Become a botanical mixologist by combining unusual herbs, fruits, or vegetables to make your personal signature drink. Try variations on tried and true drinks like the Bloody Mary, a true botanical drink. The tomato makes it "bloody," but instead of using the traditional celery stick garnish, try choosing another Bloody Mary garnish from the garden such as picked peppers, beans, or carrots.

How to: Infused spirits

An infusion is created by adding a flavour or a combination of flavours to a base spirit, usually a light one such as vodka, gin, tequila, sake, or light rum.

How to: Gin and tonic with a twist

Entertaining with festive garden-to-glass cocktails

Botanical cocktails are great for entertaining, some resembling liquid works of art. Cocktails also dress up nicely with ice cubes filled with edible flowers. For a festive look, garnish with sprigs of rosemary or float some beautiful edible flowers as a finishing touch.

Article originally published in Edited and reposted with permission

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Cover photo courtesy of Mind Over Batter


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