How to Grow a Cocktail Garden
You'd think Amy Stewart, author of The Drunken Botanist: The Plants That Create the World's Great Drinks and co-founder of the popular garden blog GardenRant, would have a massive cocktail garden with square footage for every fig tree, raspberry bush and cilantro plant imaginable.
In reality, the side-yard space outside her Victorian home in Humboldt County, California—where temps rarely rise above 70 degrees—is 45 feet long by seven feet wide. And within that she has everything from lemongrass and Mexican sour gherkin cucumber to strawberries, Thai basil, 'Redventure' celery, Johnny jump-ups, pineapple sage and 'Black Lace' elderflower with rhubarb underneath.
Oh, and did we mention the vertical planter made out of an old wooden medicine cabinet or the bar with a built-in planter?
"I didn't have the heart to throw out an old rhododendron that had been with the house forever, but other than that, every single thing is drinkable and mixable," Stewart says on her blog drunkenbotanist.com.
Like any other garden, cocktail gardens require planning and care. But the joy of walking out into it, snapping off some lemongrass and muddling the stalks into drinks to deepen the citrus flavor makes every step between sketches and sloe (the fruit used in sloe gin) worth it.
Check out the photos below for a look at Stewart's side-yard masterpiece and start planning your own cocktail garden:
Simple Syrup All-Stars
These cocktail garden planter boxes are full of ingredients ready to jump into the glass. Shiso, rosemary, thyme and lavender fill out this space. "The best way to get a little lavender flavor in a cocktail is to make a simple syrup with it," The Drunken Botanist author Amy Stewart writes.
Pomegranate for Grenadine
"Growing a pomegranate tree just so you can make your own grenadine may sound like a completely crazy idea, but there actually are dwarf varieties that could be nursed along in a large container and sheltered through the winter," Stewart writes. She suggests the 'Nana' and "State Fair' varieties.
Black Pansy Garnish
Stewart uses black pansies to garnish her drinks. "Make a very thin slice of lemon or lime and cut a pansy so that a little bit of the stem is attached to the flower," she writes. "Pull the stem through that little space in the center of the citrus slice and float that in a cocktail glass."