RECIPES: Herbs with Spirit

The Detroit News
summer sippin

Sprigs from your garden add a refreshing twist to your favorite summer cocktails.

Nothing says summer quite like sipping a refreshing cocktail on the deck. This year, spice up your favorite summer standbys with clippings from your herb garden.

Everything from basil to thyme to lavender can infuse fresh flavors to otherwise played-out drinks.

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Happy Sippin!

There are  a few different ways you can use herbs in a cocktail:

  • Muddling — Put herbs at the bottom of your glass and use a plastic or wooden muddler to mash them down and extract the flavor. Don’t mash too much though. After muddling, add the alcohol, shake the mixture, strain it and pour over ice.
  • Simple syrup — Many cocktail recipes call for simple syrup or some other type of sweetener. To make simple syrup, mix equal parts sugar and water in a saucepan over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Add any type of herb, allowing it to steep for at least 20 minutes before straining into an airtight container. Make sure the syrup isn’t boiling when adding the herbs, so you don’t cook the flavor out of the herbs.
  • Experimenting with flavors — making simple syrups by reducing fruit juices and steeping herbs in the reduction.
  • Infusing alcohol — Another way to add herbal flavors to a cocktail is to infuse the alcohol itself with the flavor. To do this, muddle the herbs then add them to a bottle of alcohol and let it steep for a few days in the refrigerator. Avoid mold growth by making sure that everything you’ve muddled is completely covered by 80-proof alcohol.