Just a few steps out the kitchen door, you can grow a container filled with herbs to enhance your favorite garden-inspired cocktails. All you need is a sunny location, a suitably large container, and some of the hottest herbs for mixology.
We chose lavender, basil, and rosemary for our container. Basil is an annual, so it will need to be replaced each spring after the threat of the last frost. Rosemary and lavender are perennials and will live three or more years, giving your container extended use. Use lavender's fragrant purple flowers as a garnish or stirring stick for a martini, or use them to impart an intriguing flavor to lemonade. Basil can make for an interesting martini or a refreshing spiked lemonade. Rosemary adds a unique flavor to any cocktail, like our Cranberry Orange Rosemary cocktail.
Enhance your container with cocktail-themed accents. We chose wine corks as mulch and labeled the plants with signs made from slices of tree branch, supported with a skewer, to resemble drink coasters.
Fill the bottom half of the container with potting soil; plant basil, lavender, and rosemary—or other herbs of your choice. Plant the herbs 1–2 inches below the lip of the container, allowing room for a dense layer of corks. Continue to fill the container with potting soil, surrounding the new plantings.
Save your corks! Cover the exposed potting soil with a thick layer of wine corks. Not only does this hold in moisture, but it adds to the cocktail theme of the container.
Write the plant names on the labels using a permanent marker.
If you're unable to find already-made tree branch labels, make your own from a fallen or pruned tree limb. Carefully cut a tree branch into ¼- to ½–inch-thick sections. Using a nail or ice pick, make a hole on the edge. Wear garden gloves for protection. A drill with a small bit will also work. Insert a bamboo skewer as the stake.
Don't limit your drink-add on options to lavender, basil, and rosemary. There a plenty of herb and produce options that can thrive in a container garden and add a new twist to your favorite cocktails.
An essential flavor for margaritas, lime adds a zesty, fresh taste to drinks and desserts. A subtropical tree, it's best grown in a pot if you live in a cold-winter climate. Move it to a sunny window indoors for the winter where you'll be rewarded with fragrant flowers in spring.
Lemon balm leaves perk up any drink with a light, citrusy note. This tough perennial is easy to grow and will provide you with a ton of fragrant foliage. Try harvesting a few leaves and freezing them in ice cubes for a beautiful and refreshing treat.
Bold, bright, and beautiful, 'Golden Delicious' pineapple sage has glowing chartreuse foliage and fire-engine-red flowers in late summer and fall—plus pineapple-scented foliage. Snip a section of stem, cut off the leaves, and use it as a stirring stick or cocktail spear.
Refreshing chives go with just about everything savory—try them in a bloody Mary, for example. Chives' foliage has a grassy texture, so this herb looks good with just about everything in the garden, too.
Add a cool touch to any drink with a sprig of mint—crush it for a delightful minty mojito, freeze it in an ice cube to bring zing to lemonade, or simply use it as a fragrant garnish.
Test Garden Tip: Mint is a vigorous spreader; many gardeners grow it in a container to keep it from taking over the garden.
Looking to plant a larger-scale cocktail garden? Plant this flavorful garden in a triangle bed that is 8 feet on each side. These herbs, vegetables, and fruit make the perfect garnish or fresh element for many cocktails.
A. 1 cucumber on trellis
B. 10 Genovese basil
C. 1 lemon verbena in an 18-inch pot
D. 1 rosemary in a 12-inch pot
E. 1 borage
F. 8 lemon basil
G. 1 spearmint in a 12-inch pot
I. 1 lovage
J. 1 peppermint in a 12-inch pot
K. 6 day-neutral strawberries