Juliet Lawrence Wilson gets her hands dirty planning a host of seasonal ingredients to perk up your cocktails!
At Gintime HQ, spring is in the air! We’re feeling green fingered and want to share our cocktail garden tips with you. Fresh herbs add a complex, aromatic zing that works perfectly in gin-based cocktails. You don’t need any land to grow enough herbs to see you through spring and summer months of scented martinis and redolent gimlets. Simply plant a few pots and window boxes and you’ll soon be creating drinks as fragrant as Coco Chanel herself.
Getting started: containers can be pots, window boxes or hanging baskets. The important thing is that they must all have holes in the bottom to allow drainage and putting a layer of gravel in the base helps this. Soil should be fertile and a garden centre should be able to recommend a compost rich soil. Herbs need a lot of light but too much heat can wither them, so a sunny spot that gets partial shade in the afternoon is perfect. Herbs don’t like being under or over watered. Confusing? Yes, but if you allow the top soil to dry out and then water liberally, allowing the water to run through the holes in the bottom of the pot, all should be well. In the height of the summer this could mean daily watering. Using plant food when herbs are growing through March to September will help them produce plenty of leaves, just what you need.
Plant in a sunny spot in a pot filled with compost. Avoid over watering and allow the soil to dry out before watering again. Lightly trim the plants after flowering. Thyme will last through the winter if you prune the leaves back in September, which will force new growth.
Mint is a rampant grower so plant in a big pot on its own in a sunny spot. Water well and regularly and prune lightly throughout the summer.
Basil loves the sun and needs around 6-8 hours a day. It can also be grown indoors on a sunny windowsill or outside in a warm spot that’s protected from the wind. Water regularly at the base of the plant, avoiding showering the leaves, and prune any flowers that appear, as this will help the plant concentrate on leaf growth. Try to only pick a few leaves at a time and they should grow back. Bring outdoor plants indoors during the winter months.
Rosemary prefers a warm spot with about 6-8 hours a day of direct sunlight. Allow the soil to dry out before dewatering. These plants grow very rapidly so pinch any buds off to keep leaf growth healthy and remove dried out or damaged stems. If the plant grows too large for its pot, move it into something bigger or trim the root ball to avoid the plant growing too large. Move the plant indoors for the winter.
Coriander should be planted in the sunniest spot. Once harvested the plant will not regrow, so it is a good idea to plant a few and replace after each is fully trimmed. Water regularly.
Lavender likes grittier compost and sunshine. This herb needs regular pruning especially after flowering. Allow the compost to dry out between watering and keep dry during the winter months. A sprig of Lavender placed under your pillow will relieve a hangover, though not as effectively as an Alka Seltzer will…
Rosemary and Thyme Martini
- 50ml Gin
- 25ml dry Vermouth
- A few Rosemary and Thyme leaves
Shake over ice in a Boston shaker and strain into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with a small sprig of each herb.
Mint infused G&T
- 50ml Gin
- A sprig of mint
Lightly bruise the mint leaves with a rolling pin, place in a highball glass with large chunks of ice, pour over the gin and top up with tonic. Stir and serve.
Lavender and Orange Martini
- 50 ml Gin
- 25 ml Cointreau
- 25 ml Lemon Juice
- 1 teaspoon honey
- A wedge of orange
- A few lavender leaves
Muddle the orange and lavender in a Boston Shaker. Add ice and all the other ingredients and shake well. Strain into a chilled martini glass and garnish with a sprig of fresh lavender.
- 50 ml Gin
- 25 ml lemon juice
- 25 ml gomme syrup
- Soda water
- 5 sprigs coriander
Muddle the coriander in the bottom of a highball glass. Add ice and all the other ingredients, stir and serve.
- 5 fresh basil leaves
- 50 ml Gin
- 25 ml lime juice
- 10 ml gomme syrup
Muddle the basil leaves in a Boston shaker. Add ice and the other ingredients and shake well then strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a fresh basil leaf floating on the top.