In Homemade Ingredients

Summer Fruits & Herbs in Cocktails

When summer (and hot weather) roll around every year, cocktails become a way to cool off from the heat and enjoy the bounty of the season. The fruits, veggies, and herbs that grow out in the garden are just as delicious in a summer cocktail as in a summer dish.  Here are some tips and tricks for incorporating the (literal) fruits of your garden (or local farmer’s market or supermarket) into your drinks!


Ideas: cucumber, radish, hot pepper, bell pepper, tomatillo

What better way to get your daily serving of vegetables than in a drink! Some of our most popular summer cocktails feature cucumber (like the Caipiroska), because its refreshing flavor in particular just screams summer.

This summer we’ve also been playing around with some different veggie combinations, and other ways to incorporate them into cocktails:

  • Cucumber Puree – this is how we bring cucumber into the June Drink of the Month, the Cooler by the Lake. It still has that true, bright cucumber flavor, but with less work in the moment! You can also use this to make some great summer spirit-free drinks.
    • How-To
  • Get a Little Adventurous – cucumber, jalapeño, etc. are delicious summer options, but the world of veggie cocktails extends way beyond them! Beet, corn, carrot have all been used in cocktails, as you’ll see below.
    • Beyond the Bloody Mary: put the Bloody Mix away until winter and freshen up your Marys! Fresh cherry tomatoes and your herb of choice make a great summer riff on the classic tomato cocktail in the Muddled Mary.
    • Bell Pepper: we’re including this sweet vegetable in our Caipiroskas this summer, both for its flavor and to add a fun color to the drink. In the past we’ve also used a few slices of fresh radish for this purpose.
    • More Ideas: the folks over at Imbibe Magazine have compiled a whole list of veggie-based cocktails, ranging from beet to celery to snap peas.
  • Pro Tip: we recommend cutting your veggie slices into halves or quarters before muddling them — this makes them easier to muddle fully, and they’re less likely to surprise you by jumping out of your shaker. (Ask us how we know!)


Ideas: mint, dill, basil, thyme

Herbs add a wonderful depth to cocktails, and are very flexible in their use — they can pair with almost any spirit! Some of our favorite more unusual combinations are American Whiskey + basil, Dearborn Gin + thyme, and Aquavit + mint.

  • Muddle: the easiest way to incorporate herbs into a cocktail, and also the quickest.
    • Make sure you are actually muddling the herbs, especially if you’re using ones with smaller leaves, like dill or thyme. Don’t muddle them too hard though — they don’t need to be pulverized!
    • We suggest fine-straining your cocktails when doing this, to avoid getting bits of herb in your drink.
  • Simple Syrup: this method takes a little more time upfront, but that pays off when making multiple cocktails, or cocktails over a few days.
    • Plain Simple: 1 cup water + 1½ cup sugar; bring to a simmer. Simmer 1 minute, then cool & refrigerate. Keeps 30 days+.
    • Herb-Infused Simple: add 2-3 tbsp chopped, packed fresh herbs, or ½-1 tbsp dried herbs to sugar & water; simmer 5 minutes. Cool, strain & refrigerate.
  • Spirit Infusion: this is great if you find an herb + spirit pairing you really love.
    • Recipe: Add 1 cup washed, fresh, leafy herbs to 1½ cups of desired spirit, aiming to have the herbs fully submerged. Store in a cabinet while infusing. Shake up, and taste, infusion each day. Expect it to take 2-3 days minimum to reach desired flavor, possibly up to a week. Add more herbs if more flavor desired, or add more spirit if too intense. After you fine strain the spirit, store in the refrigerator to extend its life and slow down oxidation.
  • Pro Tips: always ensure herbs are washed before using, and remove the stems. Adjust recipes based on leaf size and flavor intensity of the herbs you’re using.


Ideas: blackberry, orange, raspberry, lemon, peaches, apricots, plums

You can incorporate fresh summer fruits in many of the ways described above. In addition, fruits can be preserved in liqueurs or into shrubs, which can last long after their season of freshness.

  • The Classics: some of the most popular cocktail liqueurs are made from a base of fruit, like maraschino liqueur (which comes from marasca cherries, a small, sour variety of the fruit) and of course, the ever-popular varieties of orange liqueur and limoncello.
  • New Contenders: nowadays, you can get a liqueur made from almost any fruit you can think of — Giffard in particular has an extensive line that we like.
  • DIY Your Liqueur: you can make your own fruit liqueur starting with the infused spirit approach above, adding simple syrup to taste after the infusion is complete. Make sure the fruit you’re using has been throughly washed, seeds/pits are removed, and avoid fruit with any bruising or other issues.
  • DIY a Shrub: you can also preserve fresh fruits with vinegar in an old-school shrub! Shrubs can be mixed into delicious cocktails, or used for a refreshing non-alcoholic sipper. Find some tips on making shrubs here and here.

Some fun cocktails for fruit liqueurs include some of our past favorites like Dream Sequence, Blackberry Pie, Picnic in the Park or Under the Sun – so many possibilities! Some of our favorite fruit liqueurs these days include the classic orange liqueur, raspberry liqueur like Giffard, or passionfruit liqueur (which always makes a great Tiki cocktail). They all play particularly well with our Tahitian Vanilla Vodka, as well as many of our gins, and are fun to incorporate in other ways too.

Let us know what you come up with!