There’s nothing quite like enjoying a ripe, juicy raspberry plucked from the vine. And half-wilted herbs from your grocer will never make as good a cocktail as those clipped directly from the garden. But whether due to a lack of space or time, we don’t always have access to homegrown fruits and vegetables. However, that doesn’t mean that you have to settle for sickly sweet or contrived flavors—especially when it comes to your cocktails. There are plenty of spirits that capture the essence of summer’s best, from celery root to poblano chiles. Whether or not you grow your own, these vegetable and fruit spirits are perfect to capture the season and create garden fresh cocktails.
Cucumber cocktails are refreshing regardless of the season, but fresh cucumber isn’t always at hand. For this reason, it’s good to invest in a bottle of this ultra-refreshing vodka from Crop Organic. Unlike many other fruit spirits flavored with cucumber, the essence of cucumber in this vodka is subtle, clean and cooling. Try it out in a citrus-forward Gimlet or in a simple Highball for maximum restorative effect.
When used in flavored fruit spirits, chiles tend to support rather than feature as the main attraction. But this poblano liqueur brings its bright, spicy character to the fore. Made in Puebla, Mexico, from native poblano chiles, this liqueur manages to strike the ideal balance sweetness and spice. At the same time, it maintains the poblano’s vegetal, briny flavor. Do keep in mind, though, that like biting into a fresh pepper this liqueur does lean a bit more spicy than sweet. It’s delightful on the rocks or mixed with tequila or gin.
It may sound like an unusual combination, but this combination of bitter citrus and fragrant flora was meant to be. It smells just like fresh-squeezed ruby red grapefruits with just a hint of bitter citrus rind. Though the rose is almost indistinguishable on the nose, it comes through more prominently on the palate, though it manages not to be overwhelming. Just imagine sitting on a balcony surrounded by fragrant climbing roses during breakfast and sipping a glass of juice. Garden fresh cocktails are easy to make with this bottling—a simple splash of tonic is all you need.
If you were a fan of ants on a log as a kid, odds are you’ll also enjoy this liqueur. Made by Chicago’s Apologue Liqueurs, it blends the earthy flavor of celery root with ingredients like dill, fennel and tarragon. Then a touch of cinchona bark and a dose of sweetness from organic cane sugar create an almost candied bittersweet flavor akin to an amaro—and sort of like the raisins that top the nostalgic childhood treat. While there’s complexity and depth to this liqueur, there’s no mistaking that crisp, crunchy celery is the star.
Delicate in flavor and in form, basil is difficult to capture outside of using leaves fresh from the garden. It bruises easily and if over-infused or over-muddled it can take on a bitter taste. Though Square One uses four varieties of basil in this vodka—Genovese, Thai, lemon, and sweet—it succeeds in capturing the delicate herbal flavor. The vodka is also flavored with coriander, honeysuckle and lemongrass for hints of spice and floral sweetness. For a couple of easy garden fresh cocktails, try it in Rickey or a Collins.