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These are the flavors that I crave when the fall holidays roll around. I wanted to start looking into some ways that I could prepare for my upcoming festivities, but still bring in the flavors and garnishes from my garden. I love me a Sage Sidecar, but found this amazing recipe where the bartender included roasted pineapple calling it Roasted Pineapple and Sage Sidecar Martini. Doesn’t it just look so divine!!

Roasted Pineapple Sage Sidecar (Image credit: The Express-Times)

Roasted Pineapple Sage Sidecar (Image credit: The Express-Times)

The trick to this recipe is that she infuses the brandy with sage meaning that she added a bunch of sage leaves and let them steep in the brandy for 2 to 3 days, but she warns us to remove the leaves before 4 or 5 days have passed. Another way this cocktail is set apart is by roasting pineapple coated with brown sugar in the oven. Oh, I can just smell it now!! In my post, 5 Must-Have Herbs for a Cocktail Garden, I talk about infusing vodka with rosemary and lavender. Make sure to check it out!

Another way to add depth of flavor to your favorite cocktails is by creating infused simple syrup. Simple syrups are very easy to make – one part water to one part sugar. You can infuse it with a variety of different ingredients such as thyme, ginger or lavender. It’s really up to you!! With this cocktail called Fall Classic, the creator infuses syrup simple with thyme and it pairs lovely with apple brandy and ciders.

Fall Classic - A Shout to Apple Season (Image Credit: Serious Eats)

Fall Classic – A Shout to Apple Season (Image Credit: Serious Eats)

Or what about making this Fall Classic cocktail and serving it in a glass that everyone at the party will just love and think you are so absolutely creative.

Carved apple as a creative cup. (Image Credit: Savour the Senses)

Carved apple as a creative cup. (Image Credit: Savour the Senses)

Both thyme and sage could be used as a garnish in the above two cocktails, but when I think of rosemary its garnish quality really stands out. It is wonderful for infusing liquors and syrups, but I love its elegant nature in a martini glass. Look how beautiful it acts in its role as an olive skewer for this Olive-Rosemary martini.

Rosemary Skewer for Olives (Image Credit: Martha Stewart)

Rosemary Skewer for Olives (Image Credit: Martha Stewart)

But after looking at all the recipes, this one had my head spinning!! An Adult S’more Cocktail! With the weather cooling, it is absolutely the right time of year to be roasting marshmallows by the fireside, but with this recipe no fire is needed! How perfect is that!

Amazing!! Adult S'more Cocktail (Image credit: Party Style)

Amazing!! Adult S’more Cocktail (Image credit: Party Style)

Y’all have a fabulous time picking out which recipe you will be sharing with friends and family this season. Just make sure to be safe and have a DD when necessary. Cheers and here’s to finding ways to celebrate the garden in every single season.

Carmen

As the mercury climbs for most of the country, my mind daydreams of sitting in the shade with a cool and refreshing cocktail in my hand. What do cocktails have to do with gardening you ask? Everything! “Garden to glass” is a huge trend taking place for mixologists across the country and by adding a couple herbs to your garden beds you can mix up your own favorite drinks for the summer. There are several herbs that can take your cocktail from blah to ta-daa. Take mint, for instance, without it what would a mojito do? The drink would fall flat and just be plain boring, but with mint it screams summer and digging your toes in the beach sand. Here are 5 herbs that you should consider for your garden to accessorize all your summertime cocktails:

Mint

Now there are several different varieties of mint – chocolate, orange, mojito, pineapple, spearmint and peppermint to name a few. Smell and taste the different kinds that you prefer. Mint can be used in all kinds of cocktails from mint juleps to mojitos. When growing mint, make sure to place it in a container as the plant is very vigorous when placed in the ground and can be very difficult to get rid of in the future; if you desire. It’s a great plant for the beginning gardeners because it thrives. It is happiest when planted in partial sun/shade (4+ hours of UV rays) and kept moist. That means that using a large container would be an excellent idea as it won’t dry out as quickly as something smaller.

Close-up of Mint leaves

Close-up of Mint leaves

Thyme

Again there is a number to choose from, but I prefer the variegated version (Thymus x citriodorus ‘Variegata’) as the leaves look gorgeous in the garden. Thyme is wonderful to flavor simple syrups that can be used in cocktail recipes. It makes for an exquisite garnish as well. The recipe below – Strawberry Thyme Lemonade with a splash of vodka makes for an excellent refreshing cocktail in the summer. Thyme is a perennial and prefers full sun (6+ hours of UV rays) with well-drained soil. It is a very easy-to-grow plant and holds its leaves in the winter; making it perfect to flavor soups and stews during the cold months. A very well-rounded herb to add to the garden.

Strawberry Thyme Lemonade with a Splash of Vodka

Strawberry Thyme Lemonade with a Splash of Vodka

Lavender & Rosemary

These two herbs in combination make the most lovely infused vodka. Just add 1 sprig of rosemary and 2 sprigs of lavender per 3 cups of vodka and the cocktails recipes are endless from a simple vodka martini or tonic to a Mary Rose Martini, Tea Tini or Vanilla Rose.

Lavender is a perennial, if grown in USDA zone 6 or higher. (Find your zone, here). In zone 5, plants may overwinter, but it depends on the variety and weather conditions during the winter. Lavender prefers to be grown in full sun and well-drained soil. It is extremely drought resistant once established. ‘Hidcote’ and ‘Munstead’ are considered to be two of the hardiest English varieties.

Rosemary is quite easy-to-grow and fairly low maintenance. Loves full sun with extreme tolerance to high heat. Prefers dry soil, but should be placed in a container to bring indoors if not gardening in zones 7 to 10. If you garden in these zones, Rosemary will overwinter well. The hardiest varieties being ‘Arp’, ‘Hill Hardy’ and ‘Albiflorus’ (or sometimes referred to as ‘Albus’).

Lavender & Rosemary Infused Vodka

Lavender & Rosemary Infused Vodka

Lemon Verbena

Lemon is one of my all-time favorite flavors. Lemon verbena can be used much like mint and mottled for a cocktail. This Lemon Verbena Spring Fling cocktail sounds very similar to a mojito, but full of my favorite flavors. I’m sure the gin could be substituted with vodka or rum. The key in growing lemon verbena is good drainage, like annual verbena, it prefers to be dry compared to wet. So take care and do not overwater. Giving it an organic fertilizer every four weeks will greatly enhance its growth as it will the other herbs listed above. When planted in full sun it yields the best vigor and most flavorful leaves. Place it where you brush by it to send a beautiful, citrus fragrance into the air. Lemon verbena will overwinter in zones 8 and higher with extra mulch for protection during the cold months and remaining dry during these months is key.

Image credit: Bonnie Plants

Close-up of Lemon Verbena leaves. Image credit: Bonnie Plants

Let’s celebrate summertime with this wonderful recipe from Real Simple Magazine:

Strawberry Thyme Lemonade

Boil 1 cup sugar, 8 thyme sprigs, and 1 cup of water in a small saucepan, stirring occasionally, until the sugar is dissolved. Let cool and discard the thyme sprigs. Combine the thyme simple syrup, 1 quart strawberries (hulled and sliced), 1 1/2 cups freshly squeezed lemon juice, and 5 cups of water in a large pitcher. Chill for 30 minutes (or up to 12 hours). Strawberry flavor intensifies the longer it is chilled. Serve over ice, garnished with additional thyme sprigs. Splash of vodka is optional.

Strawberry Thyme Lemonade and muffins make for a wonderful afternoon snack.

Strawberry Thyme Lemonade and muffins make for a wonderful afternoon snack.

I hope that you will join me in the “garden to glass” movement and add some of these flavorful herbs to your garden to enjoy with your next summertime cocktail.

Cheers!