Summer is right around the corner, and with it – new beginnings, better weather and lots of sunny cocktails.
With 74% of us now motivated to make more environmentally-friendly choices in the name of sustainability, what better way to go greener than beginning to grow your own fruit and vegetables? Growing fruit and veg at home could save you around £149 a year.
In light of World Cocktail Day (13th May), drinks experts The Bottle Club has taken a look at some of the best fruit, vegetables and herbs you can grow this spring to garnish five simple cocktails, perfect for those upcoming garden parties.
Home Ingredient: Mint
Mint is a tasty, versatile herb – in winter, it’s perfect for making homemade lamb sauce to accompany a delicious Sunday dinner or infusing in hot tea. In summer, it’s ideal for none other than a fresh, ice-cold Mojito cocktail.
Best planted in the spring months, mint can seem uncontrollable if planted straight into the ground – which is why you should plant it in a large pot and harvest by pinching off the stems, encouraging new stems to grow.
- 10 fresh mint leaves
- ½ lime, cut into 4 wedges
- 2 tablespoons white sugar, or to taste
- 1 cup ice cubes
- 50 ml Captain Morgan White Rum
- 120ml Fever-Tree Mexcian lime soda
- Place mint leaves and 1 lime wedge into a sturdy glass.
- Use a muddler to crush the mint and lime to release the mint oils and lime juice.
- Add 2 more lime wedges and the sugar, and muddle again to release the lime juice.
- Do not strain the mixture. Fill the glass almost to the top with ice.
- Pour the rum over the ice, and fill the glass with carbonated water. Stir, taste, and add more sugar if desired.
- Garnish with the remaining lime wedge.
Home Ingredient: Strawberry
We all love strawberries, and we all love a strawberry daiquiri even more. This slushy, rum-based cocktail is perfect for cooling down on a hot day and tastes even better if made with fresh, home-grown strawberries.
Strawberries are relatively easy to grow and can be planted in early spring – all they need is soil, fertilizer, plenty of water and protection from any pesky threats such as birds or squirrels. Harvest when they are bright red and eat as soon as possible – they tend not to be as tasty when they’ve ripened.
- 120ml Bacardi Carta Blanca Rum
- 64 grams fresh strawberries, chopped, plus more for garnish
- 280 grams bag frozen strawberries, chopped
- Juice of 1 lime
- Sliced lime, for garnish
- Add rum to a blender with fresh and frozen strawberries and lime juice and blend until smooth.
- Pour into two glasses and garnish with lime slices and whole strawberries.
Sex On The Beach
Home ingredients: Oranges
Sex On The Beach is a universally loved summer cocktail, usually made up of vodka, peach schnapps, cranberry juice and of course… fresh oranges.
Oranges can be a little tricky to grow, especially in the U.K – but it’s not impossible. Oranges grow on small trees that also happen to produce beautiful white flowers. Best bought in spring, orange trees can be kept outside in a sheltered, sunny spot in summer, then taken inside and place in a warm, well-lit area (ideally a greenhouse) in the colder months.
- 50ml Smirnoff Vodka
- 25ml Archers peach schnapps
- 2 oranges, juiced, plus 2 slices to garnish
- 50ml cranberry juice
- Cup of ice
- glacé cherries, to garnish (optional)
- Fill two tall glasses with ice cubes.
- Pour the vodka, peach schnapps and fruit juices into a large jug and stir.
- Divide the mixture between the two glasses and stir gently to combine.
- Garnish with the cocktail cherries and orange slices.
Home Ingredient: Tomato
If there’s one thing we’re expecting this spring… it’s lots of hangovers. The Bloody Mary cocktail is well known for helping the morning after a fun night – however, it’s not the vodka but the tomatoes that help cure your headache. Tomatoes are jam-packed with electrolytes, antioxidants and vitamins that can help a hangover, but they’re also relatively easy to grow too!
Tomatoes can be planted in early spring, and you can purchase seeds or seedlings. If you’re planting seeds, we advise you to grow in a small pot placed in a sunny, indoors spot before moving into a larger, outdoor pot when they begin to flower.
- 1.2ltr tomato juice
- 3 lemons, 2 juiced and 1 sliced
- 300ml Smirnoff Vodka
- 3 tsp English mustard
- small celery sticks, to garnish
- 3 tsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tsp celery salt
- sliced cucumber, to garnish
- hot pepper sauce, to serve (optional)
- Put the tomato juice, vodka and lemon juice in a large jug
- Add the celery, Worcestershire sauce, salt, some black pepper and mustard and mix well.
- Fill glasses with ice and pour in the cocktail.
- Garnish with lemon slices, celery sticks and cucumber slices.
- Serve with the hot pepper sauce on the side (optional)
Home ingredient: raspberry
A Raspberry Crush cocktail is a delicious, versatile cocktail that can be mixed up with different flavours and served with or without alcohol – if you plan to use alcohol, though, opt for vodka.
Plant raspberries in weed-free soil with either farmyard manure or general fertiliser in early spring for a midsummer harvest. Once ripe, you can pick them – preferably on a dry day, and choose if you want to eat them fresh or freeze them.
- 90 ml raspberry jello
- 280 g thawed raspberries
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 170 ml lemonade
- 80 ml Smirnoff Vodka
- 1 small punnet fresh raspberries
- Combine jello and sugar and add 4 teaspoons of water
- Stir till the jello and sugar are dissolved
- Stir in lemonade and raspberries
- Once chilled, pour into a pitcher whilst adding the vodka
- Serve over crushed ice in glasses topped with a mint leaf and a fresh raspberry.