Plants for a Cocktail Garden
Cheers to the cocktail garden! Grow a happy hour in your own backyard with these good-time tips and fruit and vegetable plant ideas.
- Make a list of your favorite summertime sippers. If you like to unwind with a mojito or julep, plan for plenty of mint; just plant it in pots to keep this vigorous grower under control. Is a Bloody Mary your idea of bliss? Grow cilantro, chives and dill.
- If you can cook with it, you can drink it. A longtime foodie favorite, basil is now popular with mixologists, too. From cinnamon to clove, spicy to sweet, each variety boasts its own distinct flavor. Use it to balance the sweetness of a watermelon margarita, or kick up citrus drinks like grapefruit martinis.
- Make room for veggies. Summertime drinks don’t have to be over-the-top sweet. Make a refreshing picnic punch by adding sliced cucumbers to white soda and frozen limeade (vodka optional) or infuse gin for cool-as-a-cucumber gin and tonics. Cherry tomatoes growing like gangbusters? Pick a handful and, in a shaker, muddle them with strawberries and sugar. Fill with ice, add a shot of vodka, shake and pour. It’s summer in a glass.
- Bring the heat. Pick a peck of jalapeno peppers and turn a ho-hum drink into something hot, hot, hot! Add directly to the cocktail of your choice or infuse your favorite booze or mixer—vodka, tequila or simple syrup are fun options.
- Grow a great garnish. Nasturtium, marigold and lavender look as pretty in a glass as they do in a garden. Float a marigold bloom on top of a blood orange martini, scatter lavender petals atop a blackberry agua fresca or dress up a glass of champagne with a pretty pansy.
- Give lesser-known herbs a chance. Crush the leaves of lemon balm into spiked lemonade. Its fresh citrus flavor with undertones of mint brightens any drink, especially those made with peach, apple or melon. Enjoy a taste of the tropics with pineapple sage, which is delicious in pineapple and coconut concoctions.
- Have fun with fruit. Fresh strawberries can be used in anything from champagne punches to spritzers. Small watermelons, like the Sugar Baby cultivar, make great margaritas, as do the fresh limes plucked off your own tree. (Grow a lime tree in a container if you don’t live in the South; just bring it inside for the winter.)
- Concoct an intoxicating experience. Plant a fountain, a few chairs and a bistro table near your cocktail garden, or, better yet, plan for your next patio party by building a few sitting walls around the perimeter. Your friends will happily sip their freshly picked beverages while drinking up all that fresh air.
Mint (chocolate, spearmint, peppermint)
Tomatoes (cherry and heirloom)