It may be a little early for your garden to provide a full meal for a Memorial Day cookout, but you can still harvest plenty of fresh flavor for finishing touches. One way to let your garden shine is to serve fresh-from-the-garden cocktails. Using what you have on hand from your garden, you can create a variety of tasty drinks that are sure to impress your family and friends. Here are some of our favorite cocktail garden garnishes.
Beautiful, aromatic, and edible, lavender is an excellent addition to a variety of cocktails. Grow lavender in pots or in well-drained sunny spots in the garden. Try mixing things up by infusing lavender in vodka for a lavender martini. You could also try mixing up your own hard lavender lemonade, or leave out the alcohol for the kids. Garnish with a sprig of lavender.
Mint is easy to grow in full sun to partial shade in moist soils (or containers) and is bountiful in the spring, so it’s an excellent option if you're expecting a lot of guests. It’s the classic choice for refreshing mint juleps with mint-infused simple syrup and bourbon or for making mint mojitos with rum and lime.
Fresh strawberries are the highlight of this time of year. If you have fresh strawberries in your garden, you’ve got plenty of options. You could use tried and true recipes for strawberry margaritas, daiquiris, or a strawberry rosé sangria. If you’re feeling adventurous, try a cocktail called the “Kentucky Kiss” featuring bourbon, strawberry puree, maple syrup, and a splash of lemon juice or the “Strawberry Smash” with vodka, club soda, lemon, strawberries, basil, and honey.
Thyme, another full sun-loving perennial herb, has a nice mild flavor that is a great accent for cocktails. Some feel it has a slightly lemony or minty taste. It’s frequently paired with bourbon, bitters, honey, and a lemon peel for an updated twist on the classic old fashioned. Muddle the leaves to bring out the flavor or garnish cocktails with a sprig of thyme.
While you probably won’t have homegrown tomatoes for Memorial Day, you could have some celery. This cool weather vegetable is great for garnishing Bloody Marys. It’s also excellent when paired with gin and citrus in the “French 75” cocktail that uses celery, gin, sparkling wine, and lemon juice.
Late spring is the tail end of citrus season, so make sure to squeeze the fresh juices to use as mixers. The peels also make wonderful garnishes. If you don’t have your own potted citrus, go ahead and get one! They’re fun to grow outside during the summer and make great houseplants during the winter. We carry many potted varieties, including lemons, limes, and tangerines.
Up your refreshment game this Memorial Day with garden-fresh cocktails. But be warned — your friends will love them so much that you’ll always be hosting gatherings!