Herbal cocktail spritzers excite the taste buds, offer a refreshing treat on those humid summer days and are one of our favorite ways to use plants during the summertime.
They can be made as a mocktail or cocktail, depending on your personal preference and are always an enjoyable way to entertain guests or treat yourself while you lounge in the hammock with a good book.
One of the ways in which we create balanced boozy cocktails or mocktails is with bitters. Ingesting just a small amount of the bitter flavor stimulates healthy digestion and supports our overall body systems, and is a nice way to combat the summer drinking season with something that’s a little healthier (you don’t have to feel so guilty.)
We have been blending bitters for many years, experimenting with some of our favorite local herbs and with a few worldly exotics. Overall we believe in the power of bitter flavor across the culinary experience—in cocktails for sure, but also they also have a place in our teas, soups, salads and liquid extracts.
Here are a few simple recipes that we enjoy throughout the hot summer months.
They are cooling, dazzling in flavor and contain herbs and medicines we can find in our everyday kitchens and gardens. We like to switch it up and alternate between our traditional cocktail recipes, and non-alcoholic mocktail recipes when we want a night off.
The Bitters Spritz
A twist on the classic Italian aperitivo or Aperol spritz which was a cocktail made with bitters to aid digestion. […]
In the summer, we find balance by eating foods that are bitter (cooling, moist), such as: cucumber, olives, kale, celery, corn, quinoa, and millet.
It is also important to take time to rest, sit in the shade, breathe deeply, and absorb the green color that surrounds us. Chinese Medicine explains that the hotter months are an ideal time to harmonize the heart and small intestine.
What better way to support the heart muscle and cleanse the intestines than to eat more vegetables? Produce provides fiber, antioxidant phytonutrients, vitamins and minerals support a healthy inflammatory response, support the body’s natural detoxification process, and promote longevity.
Try to include these foods and herbs in your summer cooking. They will help you cool down, nourish yourself, and appreciate summer’s vibrant energy.
- Basil– Digestive tonic and aromatic immune support. Contains water-soluble flavonoids, which support the normal growth of healthy white blood cells.
- Cilantro– Supports the secretion of insulin and supports healthy levels of total and LDL cholesterol. Its volatile oils are also useful for immune support.
- Corn– Technically a vegetable, zea mays, corn, is considered a grain because it contains amylose starch, which maximizes corn’s antioxidant value even when it’s dried or ground into flour; high in fiber and B vitamins to promote digestion and maintain balanced blood sugar.
- Millet– Gluten-free grain, alkaline enough to balance body’s pH; nutrient dense, hypo-allergenic, complex carbohydrate; offers a balance of B vitamins to support digestion and provide consistent energy.
- Peppermint– Stomachic and cooling, it soothes indigestion and colonic muscle spasms with its affinity to smooth muscle tissue. Peppermint contains rosmarinic acid, which supports a healthy bronchial passageway and sinus.
- Parsley– Digestive, stomachic, and tonic. […]
One of the big lessons I learned from studying medicinal plants is that, when a health concern isn’t an immediate emergency, it is better to focus on supporting the living human than trying to control one piece or another of the physiology.
So, for example, we use gentle infusions made with herbs like catnip and elderflower for children’s seasonal challenges instead of drugs that might reduce fever or suppress the secretion of mucus. It is often the case that over-the-counter and prescription medications, useful as they are, come at our bodies using a drug-like mentality: find the most obvious problem, and hit back at it hard. I can’t argue that this approach has been incredibly successful in a range of situations, notably acute infection, life-threatening autoimmune inflammation, shock, and acute cardiovascular events – but that doesn’t, by extension, mean that this drug-like mentality is the only approach, or that it should be the first approach in any given situation. In many cases, the herbalist’s approach of support over control makes a lot of sense.
Nowhere is this perhaps more clear than in the way we address occasional heartburn. There are a few options to choose from: regular antacids like Tums or bicarbonate, digestive bitters, H2 receptor blockers like Zantac, and proton pump inhibitors like Prilosec, to name just a few. The proton pump inhibitors are by far the most prescribed type of heartburn and acid reflux medication: in fact, these are the fourth top-selling prescription in the United States, with over 15 million monthly prescriptions. By some estimates, over 20% of the population is taking a […]
It’s that special time of year when many of our favorite plants are expressing themselves to their fullest potential and we find ourselves getting lost in their summer magic. We get to know them in their flowering stage of growth and experience their beauty as well as their medicine. Whether we dig their roots in the fall, or harvest their fresh greens in early spring, it’s safe to say that seeing plants at their peak potential during these sweet summer months is medicine in itself. We have a few that resonate with us this time of year, not only because they are in bloom but also because they are appropriate for the times we live in and can act as everyday medicine. Each of these plants has a special place in our medicine cabinets and can be found throughout our formulas as they confer unique qualities to each one.
Motherwort, Leonarus cardiaca
Parts used: Aerial, leaf, and flower
This weedy herbaceous plant is part of the mint family and is one of the most beloved herbs by herbalists. As a true nerve and heart tonic, Motherwort has been used throughout history to soothe worries and nervous tension. Motherwort is one of our best herbs for calming anxiety in the moment, especially when felt in the heart center.
True to its name, Leonarus cardiaca translates in Latin to “lionhearted;” and this plant sends a message of tough, fierce love during the times when we need it […]