Gin and herbs, a match made in heaven

Whether it’s fresh basil sprinkled over a simple plate of tomatoes or a sprig of mint in the pan with some new potatoes, fresh herbs elevate the most basic of dishes to new flavoursome heights. It’s the same with drinks!

Fresh herbs work well with most spirits, but I think they work even better with gin, probably because plants and herbs (botanicals) are at the heart of how gin derives its flavour. Some herbs even contain the same organic compounds found in juniper berries.

I’m not very green-fingered but have managed to grow all of the above in pots and in the garden. Adding them fresh to drink is best, but you could also add them to ice cubes or make up a herb-infused sugar syrup to use in cocktails.

Mint

Julips, mojitos and Southsides wouldn’t exist without mint. The warm, aromatic, sweet flavour that comes from fresh mint leaves offers a wonderful lift to a drink. A couple of Australian gins, Archie Rose and Botanic Australis have used a native variety as a botanical.

mind-your-peas-and-s-cocktail
Mind Your Peas & Qs by Rich Woods, Duck and Waffle, London

Mint goes well with strawberries as a G&T garnish or try it in a classic Southside, a simple blend of gin, lemon juice and mint, so refreshing!

south-side-cocktail

Rosemary

Rosmarinus officinalis, to be fancy, is also a member of the mint family and has a bitter, astringent flavour. I’ve droned on for years about my love of rosemary paired with gin – it’s even a key botanical in one of my favourite gins, Gin Mare, which is unsurprisingly when you learn that α-Pinene, one of the organic compounds found in juniper berries, imparts a rosemary flavour.

rosemary-salty-dog-cocktail
Rosemary Salty Dog cocktail

Aside from being a fabulous garnish for a G&T it makes a delicious Rosemary Salty Dog, a blend of grapefruit, rosemary and salt. Check out Bad Frankie in Melbourne for a superb Rosemary Gimlet 

Basil

The aroma of Basil is such a favourite of mine, conjuring up holidays in the Mediterranean and I adore how it brightens a simple tomato and mozzarella salad. I was surprised to learn it too is a member of the mint family. I’m not sure whether the delicate leaves would stand up to making a sugar syrup, I would suggest maybe infusing the water first before removing the leaves then adding the sugar.

The Gin and Basil Smash is a winner at GQHQ, and so pretty, it must be good for you!

gin-and-basil-smash
Gin and Basil Smash

You could also try it with Poor Tom’s gin and strawberries!

Strawberry-Basil-Gin-Smash
Strawberry Basil Gin Smash

 

Sage

sage

Savoury and peppery, sage works in a number of gin cocktails. You could try it with cranberries here, but I opted for this beautiful understated Lady Sage cocktail, a delicious twist on a White Lady.

Lady-Sage-Cocktail-Glass

 

Lemon Verbena

Gin-Peach-and-Verbena-Smash-Close-up

As you’d expect lemon verbena adds a lemon flavour to food and drinks. You can also make a tea with it, but I liked it in this Peach and Verbena smash from Ryan Chetiyawardana’s book. I’m going to experiment with lemon verbena as a garnish in a G&T and maybe as a substitute for a twist of lemon in a martini.

Tarragon

Tarragon imparts a slight anise flavour that might not suit all palates, but I think most people would enjoy this Tarragon & Gin Lemonade. It adds just the right amount of savoury to a traditionally sweet drink.

Tarragon-and-Gin-Lemonade

 

Lavender

lavender-close-up

This floral and sweet member of the mint family definitely adds colour to a G&T but works really well in this Bees Knees recipe. I sometimes serve it as an alternative martini garnish too.

bees-knees-cocktail
Bees Knees Cocktail

Thyme

lemon-and-thyme-gin-and-tonic
Gin and Tonic with Lemon and Thyme garnish

Thyme’s subtle flavour minty flavour goes brilliantly with lemon in cooking so naturally that was where I started when experimenting. However, I stumbled across this recipe for a Thyme Gin cocktail and loved  the delicious flavour of thyme honey water.

thyme-gin-cocktail
Thyme Gin Cocktail

Do you have a favourite herb you like to use with your gin? Let me know.

 

 

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The Gin Queen

The Gin Queen

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