Growing Your Own Cocktails Makes Gardening a Lot More Fun

Three recipes and some sage advice from “The Drunken Botanist.”

Getty Images

Fight disinformation: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter and follow the news that matters.

Amy Stewart is a journalist and author who likes to, as Bite podcast host Kiera Butler puts it, “nerd out on plants.” As someone who regularly interviews horticulturists, including for her bestseller The Drunken Botanist,  Stewart has accrued a trove of knowledge about them—poisonous plants, medicinal plants, and culinary plants among them. She used to keep a “poison garden” at home, filled with about 40 specimens that could seriously sicken or even kill a person, but she turned it into a cocktail garden when she realized it would ultimately be more useful.

Hear Bite‘s conversation with Stewart:

Stewart has a few tips for would-be cocktail gardeners: “Grow things that you actually like to drink—if you’re not a big fan of mojitos or mint juleps, there’s no reason for you to grow mint,” she says. “My favorite thing to recommend for people to grow in a garden are those plants that are not easy to find in a grocery store and are uniquely good for cocktails as opposed to other kinds of food.” Scented geranium, lemon verbena, lemongrass, lavender are all great examples, she says.

Here are three cocktail recipes from The Drunken Botanist that you can grow from your own garden:

Pineapple Express
(by Tommy Klus, Portland, OR)

In a shaker, lightly muddle pineapple sage leaves in agave nectar, then add remaining ingredients and ice. Shake and strain into a coupe or Martini glass. Garnish with a small pineapple sage sprig. (Smack sprig in hand to release the plant’s aromatic oils.)

The Farmers Market

  • 1.5 oz vodka; gin or tequila would also be lovely in this drink.
  • 2-3 ‘Mexican Sour Gherkin’ cucumbers or regular cucumbers
  • 1-2 stalks celery
  • 2-3 sprigs cilantro or basil
  • 2-3 slices small spicy or mild peppers
  • 6 cherry tomatoes or 1-2 slices large tomato
  • Dash of Worcestershire sauce
  • 3-4 oz tonic water

Reserve a celery stalk, cherry tomato, or cucumber for garnish.  Combine all ingredients except the tonic water in a cocktail shaker and gently crush the vegetables and herbs, making sure to release the tomato juice.  Shake with ice and strain into a tumbler filled with ice.  Top with tonic water and add garnish.

Summer Peach Old-Fashioned

  • 1.5 oz bourbon
  • .5 oz thyme or tarragon simple syrup (see note)
  • Half of a fresh peach (optional upgrade: Grill the peach first!)
  • Angostura bitters
  • Thyme or tarragon sprig for garnish

Combine the first three ingredients in a cocktail shaker, and muddle the peach to release the juice. Shake well over ice, then strain into a short tumbler filled with ice. Add a dash of bitters and garnish with herbs.

Note: Make simple syrup by heating equal parts sugar and water until the sugar melts. Add herbs and allow to steep for one hour, then strain.

A BETTER WAY TO DO THIS?

We have an ambitious $350,000 online fundraising goal this month and we can't afford to come up short. But when a reader recently asked how being a nonprofit makes Mother Jones different from other news organizations, we realized we needed to lay this out better: Because "in absolutely every way" is essentially the answer.

So we tried to explain why your year-end donations are so essential, and we'd like your help refining our pitch about what make Mother Jones valuable and worth reading to you.

We'd also like your support of our journalism with a year-end donation if you can right now—all online gifts will be doubled until we hit our $350,000 goal thanks to an incredibly generous donor's matching gift pledge.

payment methods

A BETTER WAY TO DO THIS?

We have an ambitious $350,000 online fundraising goal this month and we can't afford to come up short. But when a reader recently asked how being a nonprofit makes Mother Jones different from other news organizations, we realized we needed to lay this out better: Because "in absolutely every way" is essentially the answer.

So we tried to explain why your year-end donations are so essential, and we'd like your help refining our pitch about what make Mother Jones valuable and worth reading to you.

We'd also like your support of our journalism with a year-end donation if you can right now—all online gifts will be doubled until we hit our $350,000 goal thanks to an incredibly generous donor's matching gift pledge.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate