If you’re like us and think summertime means relaxing with a cool, refreshing drink after gardening, then you’ll love the idea of combining the two by using fresh ingredients from your garden to create cocktails that will cool you down. Fresh strawberries, cucumber, mint, and basil are just a few easy-to-grow items that are perfect for backyard gardens, and all make for delicious additions to cocktail and spirit-infusion recipes.
Vodka and Gin are both frontrunners in the summertime cocktail category, as both are famous for their refreshing qualities, and both can be mixed with just about anything. Try some locally made Organic Nation Spirits, which makes vodka and gin in Ashland, both of which are perfectly balanced and smooth, with light flavors that make them easy to enjoy in a muddled cocktail. Their purity also makes them the perfect spirit to use for homemade infusions.
When deciding what to add to your infusions, there is only one thing to remember: anything goes. From strawberries to peppers and just about everything in-between, your garden has all you need to turn ordinary vodka or gin into an invigorating treat. You can make something sweet for after dinner, something light for an afternoon by the pool, or something spicy to add some excitement to your Bloody Mary or martini.
Try some of these simple recipes (pro tip: always use clean glass containers with tightly sealing lids): cube one whole cucumber, put it into a jar, cover with Organic Nation Gin and let it set in a cupboard for 3-4 days, tasting and shaking it everyday. See, wasn’t that easy? Let’s try another: fill jar with whole fresh blackberries or raspberries. Cover with Organic Nation Vodka and let it set in a cupboard for 7 days, tasting and shaking it everyday. You get the picture now, right?
Some general rules for infusion times and preparation are: let intense flavors such as citrus, mint, garlic, basil, and peppers sit for just 3-4 days. Moderate fruity flavors like strawberry, mango, cherries, blackberries, blueberries, and raspberries can sit for 7 days. Leave small, soft berries whole, but slice other fruits like strawberries and cherries. When using herbs, use them whole steam with leaves intact. Garlic should be peeled and used whole, and peppers can be halved or used whole.
If you don’t have any infused-alcohol ready, you can create some quick muddled drinks instead. Try filling a glass with ice and add fresh mint, a few slices of cucumber, and slices of lime. Muddle together, then add 2 ounces of Organic Nation Gin and fill the rest with club soda. Or for a sweeter treat, muddle 3-4 fresh strawberries, a slice of lemon, and some basil with ice. Add 2 ounces of Organic Nation Vodka and top it off with lemonade. Visit organicnationspirits.com for more delicious, creative suggestions, and watch this cool video fro muddling techniques!
With one of these satisfying treats in hand, your summer afternoons are sure to be pleasant. What garden ingredients will you add?
Cheri Hammonds is a writer, photographer, reveler of Southern Oregon and enamored connoisseur of all things West Coast.