Most of us have got a few pots of herbs growing around the house and garden and sometimes, just sometimes, all they do is just look pretty as we might not have a favourite recipe to use them. For me it was my lemon verbena. I love the smell of it, I just couldn’t imagine using it in the kitchen, don’t ask me why. Then at a summer flower show, on a really hot day when I desperately needed a pick-me-up, I found the Plants4Presents stand and was handed a glass packed with ice and lemon and filled with lemon verbena cordial and iced water. It was absolutely delicious. A fantastic, refreshing summer drink that assuaged my thirst and lifted my spirits. Herb and botanically infused alcohols, especially gin and vodka are all the rage, so whether you want a beautiful herb cordial or to pep up a summer cocktail, here are the basic recipes courtesy of Plants4Presents.
To make a basic sugar syrup:
- Heat one cup of sugar with one cup of water over a low heat.
- Once dissolved, add 3-4 tablespoons of either lavender flower buds or another fragrant herb of your choice (lemon verbena, thyme and rosemary all work particularly well).
- Simmer for 10 mins then cool and strain into clean, sterilised, sealable glass bottles. Can be stored in the fridge for at least 2 weeks.
To make a refreshing lavender cooler:
Pour 50cl of vodka, 25cl of lavender syrup over ice in a tall highball glass or large wineglass. Slice 2 calamondins in half, squeeze into the glass and then add the squashed fruits too. Top with soda water and garnish with a sprig of lavender to stir and your favourite edible flowers.
You can use any sweet orange, lemons, limes or kumquats in place of the calamondins and this works great with a range of other herb syrups. Try lemon verbena syrup or even shop bought elderflower cordial for a refreshing summer drink. It’s delicious without the alcohol too.
To make the infamous ‘Gin-a-licious’:
Start with a good handful of ice in a cocktail shaker. Add 50cl gin, 50cl of lemon juice (approx 2 large lemons) and 25cl of your favourite herb syrup. Shake, strain and taste – you can add more sugar syrup, lemon juice or gin as preferred at this stage. Serve in a chilled martini glass with an ice cube and a sprinkling of borage and cornflowers. Enjoy!