Saturday, June 7, 2014

Summer Drinks with Herbs

With the warm weather on the way and herb gardens beginning to produce lots of those flavorful fresh herbs, it's time to get creative using more of your herbs. Why not create refreshing summer sodas with your herbs? It's as simple as combining some sugar and water, heating the mix until the sugar melts then adding herbs to steep. That's it!
Here are more detailed instructions:

Simple Syrup:

Equal parts sugar and water
Combine sugar and water, heat and stir to dissolve.
When sugar has all dissolved, remove pan from heat, cool and store in fridge until needed.

Herbal Simple Syrup

After syrup is made, add coarsely chopped or torn herbs and steep until the syrup is cool.
For a stronger infusion, add more herbs or steep longer.
Strain, label and store in fridge.

Basil Simple Syrup
Picture courtesy of Oh My Veggies Blog- great ideas for using simple syrups

Summer Herbal Soda:

Add about 1 tablespoon Herbal Simple Syrup (or to taste) to an 8 ounce glass
Fill glass with ice and sparkling water, tea or juice. Garnish with herb or a piece of fruit.

The possibilities are endless. Any herb you like the flavor of can be used.

  • lavender
  • mints, of course
  • lemon herbs: lemon verbena, lemon balm, lemon grass
  • basil of all flavors
  • dill- why not?
  • fennel
  • mexican mint marigold

  • herb barrel

    Think combinations, too:

  • mint, lemon balm
  • basil, mint
  • lemon verbena, ginger mint
  • lavender, mint
  • Add fruit like strawberries or blackberries. Oranges and lemon add a citrus flavor. Use lemon juice and make your own lemonade. Mmmm... lavender lemonade.
    You can make these drinks with plain water and freeze them as popsicles. Try adding chopped fruit for great hot summer afternoon treat for you and the kids!

    For adult popsicles, add rum, vodka or your choice of spirits to the mix before freezing. (They won't freeze as hard if you add too much alcohol.)

    strawberry popsicles
    Strawberry Popsicles

    And, if you're concerned about the sugar, feel free to use honey or agave nectar. You can even use Stevia preparations or fresh or dried Stevia leaves. You won't have the thick syrup-like consistency, but you'll still have a herbal sweetened liquid to use. For adult drinks, try adding gin, vodka or other spirits to the pitcher or glass. Make an herbal wine sprintzer by replacing some of the sparkling water with your favorite wine. For a get-together, make several different herbal syrups and let your guests mix their own beverages, with or without the alcohol.

    Herbal syrups are useful for more than just drinks. Add some to plain, unsweetened yogurt to dress it up. Or, add some to whipped cream for a dessert topping. Spoon some over iced cream. Mix with fruit for a herby fruit salad.

    The uses are limited only by your imagination and creativity. Enjoy your summer with healthy, fresh herbal sodas. Don't keep them just for guests. Store some syrups in your fridge- or freezer- for your own afternoon pick-me-up.

    Here are some recipes to get you started!!
    Strawberry Basil Lemonade

    Strawberry Basil Lemonade
    Peter Ogburn for NPR

  • 1 16-ounce glass
  • 3 strawberries - de-stemmed
  • 5 basil leaves
  • 1.5 ounce Smirnoff Strawberry Vodka- optional
  • 1 ounce Island Oasis Strawberry Puree (or just pureed strawberries)
  • Fill -approximately 4 oz. Lemonade

  • Muddle 3 strawberries - de-stemmed, with the five basil leaves and Smirnoff in a 16-ounce glass.
    Mix Strawberry Vodka, and Island Oasis Strawberry Puree in mixing glass or martini shaker.
    Add ice, shake for 15 seconds and pour into glass.
    Fill with lemonade and stir.
    Garnish with extra strawberry and basil.

    Summer Watermelon Situation

    Picture courtesy of

  • 8 cups diced watermelon (about 1/2 of a small watermelon), plus slices for garnish
  • 8 ounces lemon vodka, chilled
  • 7 ounces simple syrup, recipe follows
  • 1 (17.5-ounce) can coconut juice
  • 1 lemon
  • Simple Syrup:
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water

  • Chill watermelon in the freezer for 30 minutes. Put all the ingredients in a blender and puree until smooth. Finish with a squeeze of fresh lemon. Serve very cold in a chilled glass, and garnish with watermelon or lemon slices.

    Blackberry Herb Cocktail

    Yield: Serves 6

    Blackberry Herb Cocktail
    courtesy of

  • 2 cups fresh blackberries
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 (750-ml) bottle Prosecco (Italian sparkling white wine), chilled
  • Garnishes: fresh rosemary sprigs and blackberries

  • Simmer blackberries, sugar, water, and rosemary in a small heavy saucepan, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until thickened and reduced by about two thirds, about 20 minutes.
    Pour into a very fine sieve set over a glass measure and let stand 5 minutes (there will be about 1/3 cup). Discard solids (do not press on them). Chill syrup, covered, until cold.
    Divide Prosecco among 6 small flutes, then pour 1 1/2 teaspoons syrup into each drink.

    Cooks' notes: This recipe makes more syrup than you'll need for 6 drinks. Use additional for extra cocktails or stir it into sparkling water or lemonade for delicious nonalcoholic drinks. Syrup keeps, covered and chilled, 3 days.

    Rosemary Ruby Cocktail

    Rosemary Ruby Cocktail
    courtesy of A Cozy Kitchen Prepare Rosemary Simple Syrup
    To a tall glass add:
    1 tablespoon Rosemary Simple Syrup
    Fill glass with ice, add Ruby Red Grapefruit juice and a dash of bitters
    Stir and enjoy!

    Happy Summer
    green line


    By plucking her petals, you do not gather the beauty of the flower.
    -Rabindranath Tagore, poet, philosopher, author, songwriter, painter, educator, composer, Nobel laureate (1861-1941) 

    green line
    Until Next Time,
    Good Growing to You,
    Cindy Meredith, proprietor
    The Herb Cottage
    442 CR 233
    Hallettsville, TX 77964
    phone & fax: 979-562-2153, cell: 361-258-1192
    Visit Cindy's Blog at

    1 comment:

    Herbal Rose said...

    These look wonderful. My mouth is watering in anticipation.