The festive season is just around the corner. That means harvested goodies from your garden can serve as part of the feasts, parties, and even as gifts. Garden cocktails are just one way you to introduce your garden bounty to the celebrations. Festive holiday cocktails using herbs, fruits, and other consumables from the garden are the ideal “farm-to-table” drinks to accompany any occasion.
Festive Cocktail Garden Plants
A quick glance at any high-end cocktail menu will reflect many herbs, fruits, and other plant-based items as ingredients. There is no reason we gardeners can’t produce our own delicious home-brewed or concocted cocktails.
Many popular herbs feature prominently in cocktails either as garnish, muddled, made into syrup, or infused into alcohol. If you plan ahead, preserved fruits, fruit juices, frozen zest, and other garden items can carry into winter and feature in your cocktails.
Also try using some of your favorite garden vegetables and fruits:
- Sloe fruit
- Stone fruit
Great Holiday Cocktail Ideas from the Garden
Easy holiday cocktails start with what is available and then add the extras. If you had a bumper crop of apples, perhaps you made cider. During rhubarb season, maybe you froze the stems or made a sauce or syrup. Frozen berries? Home canned pumpkin? A favorite recipe for Bloody Mary mix? Start with what you have and know, and then develop something outstanding to celebrate the holidays.
- Apple cider
- Orange juice, 1/4th the amount of cider
- Lemon juice to taste
- A spoonful of ginger
- A spoonful of nutmeg
- 8 allspice berries
- 2 whole cloves
- 2 cinnamon sticks
Mix everything together and let simmer for at least a half hour. Strain out the solids and serve warm.
Old-Fashioned Sloe Gin
Sloe fruits from the blackthorn bush are similar to plums. They have a tart, tangy flavor which is infused with gin and sugar. Sloe fruit is ready in fall and is sweetest after a frost. If you picked it early, freeze the fruit to break down the juices and make it easier to infuse. Muddle the fruit with the sugar and pour over enough gin to cover the mixture. Let the infusion sit for several weeks and then strain out the solids.
Tasty Fruit Shrub
A shrub is an old-fashioned beverage that has become new again. Basically, a shrub combines vinegar with fruit juice and often rum or brandy. The fruit and variety of vinegar can vary the flavor of the drink. A balsamic is robust, sweet, and rich, while a champagne vinegar is delicate and lightly floral. Homemade vinegar may feature floral or citrus notes.
More Ways to Use Your Garden Bounty in Holiday Cocktails
Freeze Flowers in Ice Cubes
Most cocktails taste best when they are chilled. Some are shaken, some stirred, some just straight over ice. One of the great holiday cocktail ideas is to make floral ice cubes. Use only edible flowers such as nasturtium, pansy, rose petals, and herb flowers. Do not harvest any blooms which might have been exposed to pesticides. Wash the flowers and let them dry a bit in a strainer. Consider using a silicone tray if possible to ease removal and to protect the cubes' integrity. Place a flower or petals in each cell and fill with water. Freeze solid and enjoy them in a variety of drinks.
Swap Ice for Snow
Since great holiday cocktails often need chilling, why not use snow? In areas where winter features a dump of snow, select an area of freshly fallen white stuff. Make sure the snow is clean. Then use it any way you would shaved ice or in a blended drink such as a margarita, or strawberry mint daiquiri.
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Bonnie Grant is a professional landscaper with a Certification in Urban Gardening. She has been gardening and writing for 15 years. A former professional chef, she has a passion for edible landscaping.
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