herbal cocktail herbal cocktail
Photo: Molly Beauchemin

5 Essential Herbs for a Perfect Cocktail Bar

Because fresh-picked muddled herbs are a great way to jazz up any drink.

Hosting an event and curious about fun, easy ways to make it look over-the-top? We’re fans of pairing rustic pails full of excess garden herbs with the pretty accouterments of a modern cocktail bar (above).

Herbs that are frequently found in cocktails like mint, rosemary, fennel, thyme, and basil tend to be invasive and, if left unchecked, will take over more than their fair share of the garden.

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Photo: Molly Beauchemin

The solution? Cut huge sections of them back and use the excess “bouquets” to furnish your next cocktail experience. Fresh mint is a key ingredient for mojitos or mint juleps; fennel can be used to make our signature “Mountainside” cocktail (courtesy of Momofuku’s John deBary); and rosemary can be muddled with simple syrup, lime juice, gin, and grapefruit juice to make a refreshing spritzer.

Basil, meanwhile, can be used to make a cool and refreshing cucumber, basil, and lime gimlet, which is one of our favorite drinks. Thyme, which is on the more medicinal end, is great for Bourbon Thyme or Betty Crocker’s classic Lemon-Thyme cocktail. (It still holds up!)

Those with access to fresh herbs need only remember that the lushness of plants makes everything look fancy. Encourage guests to muddle their own herbs with their spirit and sweeteners of choice and voilà: the most Instagram-worthy cocktail bar imaginable. Just remember to rinse the herbs before you serve them in drinks.

Love mixology? Try Sam Anderson’s “Ikebana” cocktail recipe.

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