Hello dear boozy friends!! It has been a long time since we last chatted. I trust everyone is doing super well! A few weeks back, I discussed, how we can start our own boozy garden. This week, I am going to talk about eight exotic gartender herbs for our cocktail garden. I really like that word. G-A-R-T-E-N-D-E-R… It pretty much sums up in what we are trying to create… Our very own cocktail garden for the bartender at home!) Anyway, the selected herbs for today is so versatile, not only do they give cocktails another element, but can be added to everyday cooking. These herbs have amazing health properties including bringing life to your gartending.
# 1: Angelica
For our first exotic gartender herb, we shall start with Angelica. This herb has been a key ingredient in a number of liquors since Pa fell of the bus. It has a taste that is very similar to Juniper berries but has more of a sweet and refreshing taste. The roots and seeds, are used secretly to flavour a number of different types of booze including Vermouth.
The easiest way for us as the “general public” to use Angelica in a cocktail, is to either chop off a thick stem, to make an Angelica simple syrup, or infusing it in vodka. Just a HUGE word of caution, do not infuse Angelica for longer than 24 hours!! Keeping it longer will cause it to go mank and you will get a mouthful of nastiness. I am sure you wouldn’t want that would you? I know I wouldn’t.
Next time you have a dinner party bring back the aperitifs and digestifs and serve a refreshing Angelica and Mint Cocktail before/after dinner to help aid digestion.
Should you decide to plant angelica in your exotic gardtend for the use of cocktails make sure you get the “Angelica Archangelica” as the other ornamental Angelicas can be mildly toxic. We don’t want to poison our guests or ourselves do we now? They are easy to grow and can be cultivated from seed . Without the booze you can cook the stems and leaves along with sour fruits like apricots, plums and even rhubarb to help counter the acidity.
# 2: Myrtle
My second exotic gartender herb is the hardy evergreen Myrtle bush which bears a beautiful white flower. Once the bush has finished flowering it will produce a blueish berry. You can use the leaves as they taste similar to bay leaf.. Add an extra special touch by using the pretty flower as garnish. The berries can be used has they have a strong juniper flavour – so use sparingly! How does a refreshing Lemon Myrtle Lemonade Sound?
This is another fantastic herb to keep in your garden not only for boozy drinks but because of the gorgeous perfume it releases. This plant has been used for many years (including biblical times) for its fragrances. The oils produced by myrtle is used to give soaps and perfumes a wonderful scent. It even has excellent health properties and said, it can treat coughs, sinuses and UTI’s. The berries can also be dried, ground and used as spice for savoury dishes. See I am not all about the booze… the booze… no trouble!
# 3: Coriander/Cilantro/Danya/Chinese Parsley
Hey Boozy Kitchen, I thought you said exotic gartending herbs? Well, my boozy friends, have you ever thought of having it in a cocktail? Neither did I! Just imagine switching things up with a twist – next time try swapping the mint for coriander in your Mojito, or give the old Margarita an extra kick by adding a coriander infused simple syrup and a slice or two of a Jalapeno? This is not for the faint heart!
Coriander leaves are a tricky business. It is one of those herbs you will absolutely love or utterly hate. Me… I just love the fresh pungent, citrus, earthy minty smell when you wash and chop the leaves. If you are a coriander fan here are three must try cilantro/coriander or whatever you call it cocktail recipes that promises to knock your socks off.
# 4: Lemon Verbena
Our next exotic gartender herb is a must in all boozy gardens. If it can be used in tea why can’t it be used in cocktails? Lemon Verbena has a gorgeous subtle lemon perfume. If you are looking to add another note to your lemon infused drink or add a beautiful garnish that reinforces the lemon juice in your cocktail, consider using lemon verbena. How about giving this Lemon Verbena cocktail a try?
# 5: Stevia / Sweet Leaf
Now this a exotic gartender herb, that not a lot of people will even think about growing. The Stevia or sweet leaf plant is a small, sweet, leafy herb of South American origin. Our little herb is just not a sweet face. Yes friends, this little super herb is full of health benefits. Here is just a few of them:
- dried leaves are 40 times sweeter than sugar;
- very low in calories;
- rich in antioxidants including a compound called Kaempferol which studies show, it can reduce the risk of pancreatic cancer;
- contains a chlorgenic acid which decrease the absorption of sugar in the gut, therefore reducing sugar levels;
The best way to use Stevia in your cocktails is to make an infusion of either water or vodka. Here is a fantastic article telling you how to do these infusions.
How to make a Stevia Simple Syrup:
• 1/4 cup fresh stevia leaves
• 1 cup warm water
Pour one cup of warm water over gently bruised stevia leaves. Allow for the mixture to infuse for 24 hours and then keep it in the fridge. (You can add teaspoon of ascorbic acid as a preservative.)
How to make a Stevia Liquid Sweetener
• 1 tablespoon dried stevia leaves
• 1 quart boiling water
Pour boiling water over the leaves and allow to infuse. You can then freeze the liquid mixture in ice cube trays for future use. If you choose to keep this in the fridge it is best that it is used within a few days. Looking for sugar free cocktail recipes? Low-Carbs so Simple has a stack of yummy cocktail recipes.
This exotic gartender herb has a pungent lemony, herbaceous, and sweet floral flavor. It goes super well with both sweet and savory dishes/drinks. It is one of the cheapest and easiest herbs to grow. Cutting it back during the spring will encourage new growth. Add a lovely touch to your garden by growing it in a pot or even as a hedge.
Give your western styled cocktails an eastern twist by adding lemongrass! Just so you know lemongrass pairs super well with coconut milk, chili, cucumber, and pear. So have fun experimenting! Go on… don’t be shy!
You can either use a simple syrup infused with lemongrass or muddling it with other ingredients. Even better, lemongrass stems can be doubled up as a natural straw (no need for a plastic or that horrible paper straw) and/or a muddle stir stick. Score! Double Score!! We love those don’t we??
5 Must try lemongrass cocktails:
- Thai Basil Rum Slushie
- Lemongrass, Lime & Thai Basil MojitoThai Basil Rum Slushie
- Lemongrass Gin and Tonic Cocktail
- Lemongrass, Lime and Ginger Mojito
- “My Thai” Lemongrass Cocktail
# 7: Hyssop
With this gartender exotic herb there are two types: “Hyssopus Officinalis” and “Agastache or Anise Hyssop.
Hyssop is a strong-flavoured aromatic herb originating from the Mediterranean. It has a similar flavour profile to rosemary or lavender. It is an old herb which is hard to find these days. Today it is the main ingredient of the distillation of liqueurs such as Chartreuse. All though scarce to find, if you manage to get your green fingers on one, you will have a treasure in your garden. The young leaves can be used in all sorts of dishes from salads, meat or oily fish dishes, soups, stews and even fruit dishes. Hyssop is said to aid the digestion of fatty or rich foods, you can make a lovely digestifs cocktail for an after supper drink . It also makes excellent honey added BONUS, bees love the beautiful blue flowers. Attracting bees to the garden is always a good thing! Right? Right!!
Anise Hyssop has a sweet, anise aroma and flavour. It has a natural sweetness, unlike many herbs that are bitter if consumed on its own. Anise Hyssop pairs really great with apricots, blueberry, peach, pear, plum and raspberries. Pinterest has tons of cocktail ideas to help you get those creative cocktail juices flowing.
Our last gartender exotic herb for today is Ginger! Don’t you just love the rich earthy zing of a fresh ginger? I do… Give your next cocktail a real kick without adding the extra booze by using fresh ginger. Be bold and wet the outer rim of the glass with freshly squeezed ginger juice, dusted with sugar. Surprise your guest by giving them a ginger kick by grating a teaspoon of fresh ginger to any cocktail. You see boozy friends, ginger plays well with almost every spirit. Proof that gingers get along with everyone! 😉
The best way to get the most out of your fresh ginger is to scrape the skin off with the edge of a teaspoon (easiest and minimal waste). I find grating the ginger on the medium side of the grater gets more juice out than chopping. Squeeze the juices out by hand or use a garlic press. A great tip is to freeze the juice in ice cubes for future use. Oooooooh just think…. your next whiskey add one block for another level of flavour.
Ginger is actually so easy to grow, you can even grow them indoors. There are plenty of tips on the internet on how to get started, now you can have ample supply for your cocktails and cooking. Here are 5 amazing cocktail recipes for you to try.
By now you should be having quite a wonderful selection of herbs. We are not nearly done my boozy friends. Stay tuned for Part 3: Edible flowers for garnish! Until next time – stay safe, drink responsibly and remember dinner and drinks are on me 😉 Chow Chow xxxx
Images Provided by:
Angelica Image by Marjatta Caján from Pixabay
Myrtle Image by Beverly Buckley from Pixabay
Coriander Image by Nayuta from Pixabay
Lemon Verbena Image by Lebensmittelfotos from Pixabay
Stevia Image by Jan Haerer from Pixabay
Lemongrass Image by yuelanliu from Pixabay
Hyssop Image by Lucian Aeris from Pixabay
Ginger Root Image by gate74 from Pixabay