Fresh herbs add flavor possibilities to cocktails that sugar syrups miss the mark on. Herbs for drinks have become more popular in craft mixology, whether you’re talking about an aromatic herbal cocktail or a sprig of rosemary as a garnish.
If you want to try using herbs in your cocktails, these ten fresh herbs are a great place to start, but they’re really just the beginning. There’s so much fresh, herbaceous flavor to explore!
Ten Best Cocktail Herbs to Try
When it comes to herb cocktails, mint is arguably the most popular and widely used herb. It’s the star in classic cocktails such as the mint julep and mojito, and it offers a flavor profile that goes beautifully in many different types of whiskey cocktails.
As a bonus, mint is one of the easiest herbs to grow in your garden.
Mint lends a refreshing taste to any summery drink. For something simple, you can try lemonade and vodka with a sprig of mint. You can also muddle the fresh mint with a slice of orange and a little sugar or simple syrup, then top it with vodka, whiskey, or gin for an effortless orange mint cocktail.
As with any herb, quality is important. We’ve never been disappointed with this fresh, organic mint that we’ve ordered from Amazon.
Lemon verbena is far less popular than mint when it comes to herbs in cocktails, but in our opinion, it deserves some serious recognition. This is just one of those fresh herbs that burst forth with flavor, and it will add a fresh kick to just about any cocktail you add it to.
Lemon verbena goes best with light spirits, such as starring as the garnish in a perfectly prepared tequila margarita. It also adds a nice touch to vodka and club soda, maybe with just a drop or two of fresh lemon juice mixed in.
Verbena is a perennial herb that has lots of culinary and mixology applications. Plant these seeds in your container garden and have the fresh lemon scent and flavor always at your disposal.
Rosemary, although a bit pungent, is one of the more versatile herbs for cocktails. It goes well with everything from sweet cranberry martinis and tequila cocktails to fresher options with clear spirits like gin and tonic water.
Rosemary on its own has a bit of an earthy, woody flavor, but it seems to just magically balance out when added to a cocktail. Rosemary is also a fun, easy garnish because it works as a natural stir stick in your cocktail.
Make sure to rinse the rosemary well before adding it to your drink. Once rinsed, pat it gently between a paper towel so the residual water doesn’t dilute your cocktail.
This organic rosemary from Meyer Farms never disappoints.
When used in making cocktails, basil adds a refreshing and surprising element. It’s a fairly mellow herb, and you might associate it more with a Caprese salad or pesto, but in the right drink, basil is freshly aromatic and pure magic.
Try adding fresh basil to a gimlet with fresh lime juice, or indulge in a basil smash that combines gin, basil, simple syrup, and lemon juice.
There are also other varieties of the herb that make interesting additions to cocktails. Lemon basil and Thai basil are just a couple of examples.
We like this basil from Gotham Greens. You only need one or two basil leaves per cocktail, and this container keeps the herb nice and fresh until you’re ready to use more.
Thyme is another underrated addition to the cocktail garden. As a fresh herb, thyme offers earthy notes and really goes well with botanical spirits, like a nice gin. One of our favorite ways to use thyme in cocktails is in a blueberry gin fizz. Thyme and fresh blueberries are unsuspecting partners in crime that are hard to resist.
Keep in mind that as a fresh herb, thyme has more delicate leaves than a sturdier herb like rosemary. Either muddle it or very gently place a sprig of thyme in your glass as a garnish.
Meyer Farms offers great quality organic thyme.
Cardamom is an interesting herb with a complex flavor. You might notice just a hint of sweetness there, but it’s also warming, a little peppery, and very fragrant. Cardamom pods make an interesting and delicious addition to many different types of cocktails.
Cardamom goes well with other warming herbs and spices, like cinnamon sticks and ginger. A warm hard cider served with a cardamom pod or two, an orange wedge, and a cinnamon stick is a treat on a fall day. You can also try a cardamom old-fashioned with bourbon, angostura bitters, and cardamom pods. Shake vigorously to really chill the drink before pouring it into your glass.
You can also make cardamom simple syrup, but if you crush the pods first, make sure you double strain to keep the flavor but eliminate little chunks.
These cardamom pods from the Spice Way offer more than enough to add to your favorite cocktails and have some left over to use in aromatic cooking, too.
Cilantro is one of those herbs that people either love or hate. If there’s just one herb that would add the most noticeable flavor to a cocktail, cilantro is it! While it’s not used a lot in the cocktail world, its uses go far beyond just being a key ingredient in salsa.
Add cilantro to your favorite margarita, and then garnish with a lime wedge and a small sprig of the herb. Combine it with the other ingredients when making your famous bloody mary mix. Or how about adding it to a spicy jalapeno mojito? The possibilities are endless!
Tarragon is another herb that isn’t given enough credit when it comes to adding herbs to cocktails.
This is thought of as a savory herb, but it actually has just the slightest licorice taste to it, which makes it a wonderful addition to many cocktails, especially those that feature vodka or gin as the main spirit.
If you want to go more of a savory botanical route, combine tarragon with sage and a dash or two of celery bitters to a gin martini. Pure perfection.
Dill is a fun and interesting herb to add to cocktails, and yes, it’s good for more than just making pickles! Add some dill as a garnish to your favorite bloody mary, or get creative and try a cocktail where dill is a prominent flavor.
A dill and cucumber gin gimlet or gin fizz is perfect for a spring or summer evening, or go for a dill mojito that uses gin instead of rum. Don’t forget the lime. Trust us. It tastes great!
Dill tends to have a short life once it’s picked, so if you’re not growing herbs, make sure you get dill from a quality source like this one.
Finally, we come to lavender, which is technically a flowering herb. Lavender is known for being floral and fragrant and offering its famous relaxing qualities.
All that said, it is also an edible herb that works well in many types of cocktails, from a ginger lavender cocktail, like a lavender mule, to something as simple as adding the lavender flower to a glass of sparkling wine.
What herbs go well in drinks?
Many different types of herbs go great in drinks. Mint and basil are two popular herbs used, but you can also add herbs like lemon verbena, rosemary, thyme, sage, lavender, and dill. If it grows in your herb garden, there’s a chance it will go great in a cocktail.
Which herb is used as a flavor in drinks?
Many different herbs are used to add flavor to drinks. Mint is one of the most popular, but you can combine just about any herb with spirits and other flavorings in cocktails.
- Mint is the most popular herb for cocktails, but there are many others that are equally wonderful
- If you’re going to grow your own herbs, mint, basil, and rosemary are a good place to start.
- Go for top quality when bringing herbs to your cocktail game – fresh taste is important
- Consider whether a drink is more sweet or savory, then choose an herb that compliments that flavor profile