Herb is the word these days. Have you seen trendsetting bars that use herbs for cocktails? Okay, maybe we aren’t writing about that kind of herbaceous drink. We’re talking about garden-variety herbs for cocktails. The kind you get in your local grocery store or farmer’s market. Using traditional cooking herbs for cocktails is a cocktail trend worth talking about.
Mixologists and consumers alike love the savory bite herbs give to their favorite libations. With so many culinary herbs to choose from for cocktails, it’s easy to get dazed and confused. Not just about which herbs to use, but how to grow them, how to use them (muddle or infuse), and how to store them. Once you’ve learned what and how to use them, you should try out 8 of our favorite herbaceous cocktails full of fall flavors.
Where to Buy Herbs for Cocktails
The easiest way, though not least expensive, is merely to buy fresh herbs. Established farmer’s markets in most cities make stocking up on fresh bundles of cilantro, mint or basil, convenient. However, fresh organic herbs can be costly, primarily because they are sold in big bunches that go bad before you use them. The most expedient way to snip a sprig is to walk out into your very own garden. The Drunken Botanist has some enlightening information on how to establish an herb garden just for tequila.
Adding Herbs to Cocktails
When it comes to herbs for cocktails, there are a few rules (recipes). Do you have to follow them to the letter? Not necessarily, but you should take note of how the recipe instructs you to use the herbs (muddle vs. infuse vs. garnish). The balance of the cocktail depends on the delivery of the herbs. Muddling will release the essential oils and break down the herb, thus allowing the essence to mix with the spirit. Adding the broken down herbs to the cocktail adds color and flavor. Alternatively, strain to add only the flavor.
Infusing Alchohol with Herbs
Try your hand at home chemistry by infusing herbs into tequila or by creating an herb simple syrup. Melding the base spirit with herbs will give your cocktail an all-over herbaceous flavor profile. However, it will limit you to using that specific spirit. By creating an herb-infused simple syrup, you provide flexibility to your home bar. The syrup lets you add the herb to any cocktail (or mocktail) your heart desires.
Storing Herbs for Cocktails
Herbs are intrinsically delicate. Leave them without the appropriate level of water, and they dry out quickly. Too much water and they turn black and mushy. There are a couple tried and true methods for storing herbs for cocktails. Wrap the herbs in a damp paper towel and zip up in a plastic bag. Store in the fridge for optimal freshness. You can also store herbs with the stems in a glass of water using the same philosophy as fresh cut flowers. You might have to experiment a little with the amount of time you have to store the herbs for maximum freshness. Also, note that the temp of your fridge may alter how long they will stay fresh.
8 Herbaceous Cocktails Full of Fall Flavors
Que Bueno – Just a hint of thyme is enough to take the Que Bueno over the top – in a good way. Even when used solely as a garnish, a sprig of fresh thyme adds a beautiful citrus and mint layer to this apricot cocktail.
Rosemary Lemon Margarita – Your opportunity to experiment creating an herbed simple syrup is here. Try the Rosemary Lemon Margarita developed by Yvonne Mendez for a frosty treat in any season.
Mexicali Mule – Ginger is one of the most versatile herbs for cocktails. Ginger beer adds a spicy brightness to the Mexicali Mule, our tequila version of the classic in a copper cup.
Cucumber Cilantro Margarita – Did you know that cilantro, Mexican parsley, and coriander are essentially all the same. Whatever you want to call it, the flat green, spicy herb plays well in tequila cocktails like the Cucumber Cilantro Margarita developed by Shawn Monnin of Coasterra in San Diego.
Garden of Mayahuel – Push your herbed mixology skills to the next level when you stir up the Garden on Mayhuel. Crisp green apple gets a little spicy with ginger and cilantro.
Beauregard’s Cocktail Party – Practice your muddling skills before Beauregard’s Cocktail Party starts. Batch this craft cocktail ahead of time to save a few steps and to free yourself to mingle and enjoy the party.
Melocoton Cocktail – When garnishing a cocktail with fresh herbs like the Melocoton Cocktail, fresh matters. A stale, limp, discolored sprig of thyme will downgrade your drink. Our tequila version of an elevated Bellini deserves a burst fresh herbs.
Herbaceous Cocktails for Days
If 8 isn’t enough, check out our tequila cocktail recipes and search for more herbaceous cocktails. We’ve got more great ideas where these came from.