Along the Garden Path: Cocktail garden


A cocktail garnish is an ornamental item that adds appeal to any cocktail. Instead of adding those fancy umbrellas and stir sticks, think of growing your own Cocktail Garden.

A cocktail garden doesn’t take a lot of space. Incorporate cucumbers, herbs such as lavender, mint, and sage; try asparagus or green beans in your garden.

What’s better than a nice garnish in your cocktail before your meal and even on your dinner plate?

A garnish we always enjoyed over the years was at St. George and the Dragon on 5th Ave. South in Naples, Fl. A Bloody Mary would be served with a stalk of celery, a skewer of olives, shrimp, and grape tomato. Later, they dropped the shrimp and offered a Dirty Mary with pepper on the rim of the glass with a skewer of pickled asparagus or pickled green bean, olives, celery and maybe a slice of pepperoni. Refreshing Chives can be added to a Bloody Mary; the foliage has a grassy texture and it looks good with just about everything in the garden. Float cherry tomatoes in martinis or other drinks for added color and flavor.

A refreshing Mojito is a cool touch to any drink by adding a sprig of mint; crush it for a delightful minty Mojito, freeze it in an ice cube to bring zing to lemonade, or simply use it as a fragrant garnish.

Lemon balm leaves perks up any drink with a light, citrusy note. This tough perennial is easy to grow and will provide you with a ton of fragrant foliage. Try harvesting a few leaves and freezing them in ice cubes for a beautiful and refreshing treat.

Lavender, one of the most loved herbs, is often absent from the culinary garden. But use its fragrant purple flowers as a garnish or stirring stick for a martini, or use them to impart an intriguing flavor to lemonade.

Bold, bright, and beautiful, ‘Golden Delicious’ pineapple sage has glowing chartreuse foliage and fire-engine-red flowers in late summer and fall and has pineapple-scented foliage. Snip a section of stem, cut off the leaves, and use it as a stirring stick or cocktail spear.

There’s a seemingly endless number of ways to use strawberries in summer drinks. Martinis, daiquiris, and margaritas all come to mind. Or use this sweet, delicious fruit to decorate your drinks.

Basil is one of the most versatile herbs you can grow. While it’s a no-brainer for pesto, pizza, and other Italian dishes, try a basil martini or crush it to make refreshing lemonade.

Trade a stalk of celery for a cucumber spear with mini Gherkins, a jumbo Shrimp and a cocktail onion. For a spicy taste, top your drink with a beef jerky stick or add a sugar snap pea. Options are just endless.

Try using different garnishes in your favorite summer-time beverage. Enjoy!

By Charlene Thornhill

Along the Garden Path

Charlene Thornhill is a volunteer citizen columnist, who serves The Daily Advocate readers weekly with her community column Along the Garden Path. She can be reached at [email protected]. Viewpoints expressed in the article are the work of the author. The Daily Advocate does not endorse these viewpoints or the independent activities of the author.

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