Simple Herbal Cocktail Recipes for Summer

by Aisling Badger July 21, 2017

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.

These are  refreshing and simple to make and can be enjoyed before or after meals.

Once you have the syrups made and in house, they can be used in various cocktails or mocktails.

Recipe:

  • 3 teaspoons homemade herbal syrup or Aperol (See two syrup recipes below)
  • Dash of Organic Digestive Bitters
  • 12 oz Seltzer or Prosecco

Tonic Syrup

There should be a bottle of tonic syrup in every household, but not the saccharine preparations that pass for “tonic water” sold in grocery stores. The formula has many variations but the key elements are always present. The bitter foundation is quinine from Cinchona officinalis, or Peruvian bark. In this recipe, we’ve layered in citrus notes and warming spices along with the camphor of Juniper berries.

1 Tablespoon of this tonic syrup in a glass of seltzer makes a tonic water that can be used in Gin & Tonics, as well as a refreshing aromatic bitter for almost any cocktail or mocktail. Yields 8 oz.

Recipe:

  • 4 oz Simple Syrup
  • 1 oz Cinchona tincture
  • 1 oz fresh lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon grapefruit tincture
  • 1 tablespoon lemon verbena tincture
  • 2 teaspoons allspice tincture
  • 2 teaspoons rose tincture
  • 2 teaspoons juniper tincture
  • 1 teaspoon cardamom tincture

In a large measuring cup, thoroughly blend the ingredients together. 

Transfer to an 8 ounce bottle for storage.

To make tonic water, add about 1 tablespoon of tonic syrup to a 12 oz glass of seltzer. 

For a Gin & Tonic cocktail:

  • 8 oz sparkling water
  • 2 teaspoons Tonic Syrup
  • 15 oz Gin
  • Slice of lime
  • Bitters to taste

Bitter Ginger Syrup
for an extra-strength Dark and Stormy cocktail or a ginger-y mocktail

Enjoy this syrup with some apple cider vinegar and seltzer for a quick afternoon pick-me-up, with lemon and warm water in the morning or in a classic cocktail like the Dark and Stormy. It also makes an excellent “ginger ale” for kids. Enjoy 1-2 tsp for any upset belly symptoms— it is easy to sip on. Makes 8 oz.

Recipe:

  • 1 oz gentian tincture
  • 2 oz ginger tincture
  • 7 tablespoons raw honey.
  • Blend together, and store for later use!

Find some of these recipes and more in our DIY Bitters Book!  The featured pint glasses are North Drinkware Vermont Pints, inspired by the mountains of Vermont.

Enjoy!

Aisling Badger
Aisling Badger


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