From Garden & Gun
Photographs by Margaret Houston
Spring has finally sprung, which means it’s time to get going on your herb garden. This year, take a cue from Arlington, Texas, native Amy Stewart, author of the best-selling book The Drunken Botanist, and make room for herbs that will add depth to your favorite cocktails. “Herbs pair well with everything—rum or vodka or gin,” Stewart says. “But add herbs to whiskey and it becomes even more complex and interesting.”
According to Stewart three herbs partner especially well with bourbon: mint (of course), French tarragon, and anise hyssop (a lesser known mint cousin that’s readily available at most garden stores). “Mint adds a slight sweetness and a floral flavor to whiskey that is aged in oak,” she says. “Tarragon brings a spicy, savory element and some licorice. Anise hyssop also has licorice notes and this wonderful pineapple note.” Try them alone as a garnish or muddled into a drink. Or brew an herbal simple syrup. Not only will it spice up a bourbon cocktail, such as this bright riff on the old-fashioned, but it also helps keep your plants trim and under control.
Summery Garden Old-Fashioned
1 ½ oz. bourbon
½ oz. herbal simple syrup (see recipe below)
½ fresh peach (a couple of strawberries work, too, if peaches aren’t ripe yet)
Dash Angostura bitters
Club soda or ginger beer
Sprig of herb and/or peach slice for garnish
Combine first 4 ingredients in a cocktail shaker and muddle gently to crush the fruit. Strain into a mason jar or tumbler filled with crushed ice. Top with club soda or ginger beer and add desired garnish.
Herbal Simple Syrup
Heat 1 cup of water and 1 cup of sugar in a small pot until sugar dissolves completely. Turn off heat and add about ½ cup of any combination of the herbs above. Steep for an hour, then strain into a glass jar and store in the refrigerator up to a week (adding a splash of vodka as a preservative will help it last even longer).