Summer time is here, and with warmer weather comes pool parties, park picnics, backyard barbecues and all manner of outdoor get togethers. That also means there will be a need to entertain and provide refreshments—like delicious homemade cocktails!
Cocktails are certainly nothing new, but there are plenty of new recipes popping up every day, especially for those made with homegrown ingredients.
With the help of Greendigs, a new online indoor plant retailer dedicated to making your personal space a little greener, we put together a list of cocktails that can be made using your own backyard, featuring plenty of mint and basil, all of which can be made with non-alcoholic substitutes. Get ready to impress your friends as you re-emerge and enjoy a summer breeze together!
Greendigs’ Gin in the Garden
This recipe features oleo saccharum, a basil-based simple syrup that you can make at home and add to all manner of delicious drinks. Gin in the Garden is a cool, pitcher-filling surprise sure to be enjoyed in outdoor settings. It requires an overnight process, but is highly worth the effort. We’ll start with the oleo saccharum recipe and take it from there.
Made using everyday garden basil, this recipe will require a wait overnight for full separation, but will serve the drink well when served.
- 1 bunch of basil
- Granulated sugar
- 2 to 3 large lemons
- Mason jar with lid
- Peeler or paring knife
- Peel the lemons, making sure to get just the skin above the pith (the white part).
- Pluck the leaves from the basil (about one cup packed) and cut into ribbons by stacking leaves, rolling and cutting.
- Place the sugar into the mason jar, then add lemon peels and basil. Seal jar, shake to cover contents with sugar, and leave it on your countertop.
- Give the jar a slight swirl. By the next morning, the oil should be separated.
- Stir contents to dissolve remaining sugar particles and run through a strainer to remove solids.
- To speed up the process, gently press the contents of the jar with a muddler or the back of a wooden spoon. This should produce about a quarter cup of oleo.
- Refrigerate the oleo after each use. Chilled, it will keep for up to four weeks.
Once the oleo is ready, you can begin making the rest of the drink!
How to make Greendigs’ Gin in the Garden
Ingredients (per serving):
- 1.5 ounces of American style gin, or a non-alcoholic substitute such as black tea.
- ¼ ounce of basil Oleo Saccharum
- ½ ounce of lemon juice
- 4 ounces seltzer or club soda
- Lemon wedges
- Jigger or measuring device
- Shaker tins or mason jar with sealable lids
- Collins glass
- Paring knife or peeler
- Add ingredients except seltzer to a shaker or jar with a sealable top and shake with ice until well chilled.
- Strain over new ice in a Collins glass, and top with seltzer.
- Grab three basil leaves and fan them in your palm. Lightly smack the leaves to express the oils and place between ice and glass.
- Squeeze lemon peel over basil, and place snugly with the fan of leaves.
Greendigs’ South Facing Light
This recipe features a “bright alternative” to the traditional mint simple syrup: honey mint syrup! As the name suggests, it’s a delicious combination of honey and mint, offering a sweet base for any summer drink. We’ll make the honey mint syrup first.
Honey Mint Syrup
- 1 bunch mint
- 1 cup of honey
- ½ cup water
- Wooden spoon
- Mason jar with lid or jar with swing-top closure
- In a saucepan, add the honey and mint over medium-low heat.
- Stir to incorporate mint into honey, lightly tamping with a wooden spoon to release mint oils into the mixture.
- Add water to the mixture, and bring to a light boil.
- Remove from heat, and stir to combine. Let cool and pour through a strainer into a mason jar or swing-top bottle.
- Will keep for 3 to 4 weeks refrigerated.
Now we can make our true cocktail: the South Facing Light, a tequila-lime mix that’ll brighten anyone’s day with its sweet flavor.
How to make the South Facing Light
- 2 ounces tequila or alcohol-free substitute such as Seedlip
- ¾ ounces fresh lime juice
- ¾ ounces honey mint syrup
- Shaker tin or mason jar with a sealable lid
- Stemmed cocktail glass
- Measuring device
- Shake all ingredients with ice in a shaker tin, and be sure it’s well-chilled. Strain into a cocktail glass.
- Garnish with an expressed mint leaf. To do so, simply place a mint leaf in the palm of your hand, and give it a light smack
Greendigs’ Bumble Tea
For those looking for a non-alcoholic substitute to enjoy during a summer day, the bumble tea offers all of the natural flavor of the previous drinks, while adding a delicious kick of ginger and tea to make it unique.
- 6 leaves of basil
- 3 lemon wedges
- ½ ounces of honey
- 6 ounces of black tea
- 2 ounces of ginger beer
- Glass of your choosing
- Place the basil leaves and lemon wedges at the bottom of your glass.
- Lightly drizzle honey on top of the leaves and wedges.
- Press down on the leaves and wedges, creating a muddle of syrup to base your drink off on. Don’t press too hard, as the simple flavor can be lost with too much mixing.
- Add the black tea into the glass.
- Top off with a bit of ice and ginger beer.
- Garnish with more basil in the glass, adding flavor with a light smack beforehand.
Bonus Recipe: The Drunken Sailor
While searching for more recipes to include the delicious honey mint syrup in, we found an old classic that we believe works perfectly with the concoction: the Drunken Sailor.
- ¼ cup of honey mint syrup
- ¼ cup of white rum
- Ginger beer
- Lime slice
- Cocktail shaker
- Copper mug
- Combine the syrup and the rum into the cocktail shaker, and shake well until combined.
- Strain the concoction into the copper mug, and top off with ginger beer.
- Garnish the cocktail with a nice lime slice.
Ready to grow your own mint and basil, or just looking to spruce up your home or office? Check Greendigs' beautiful and chic indoor plants, succulents, herbs and home decor. They even have tips to keep your plants thriving, so you don't need to have a green thumb.