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Herb-Infused Cocktails and Ice Cubes

herbs and cocktails

Herbs are a quick and easy way to transform any cocktail from fine to fabulous. Herb-infused cocktails and ice cubes are all the rage this fall, and the trend is highly likely to continue.

From putting a simple sprig of herbs into a cocktail to using an infusion to create a stronger flavor, the possibilities are endless. Here are five tips for incorporating herbs into cocktails or ice cubes this New Year’s Eve.

1) Try these favorite herb-and-alcohol pairings

Using herbs to add some extra zing or zest to alcohol is a timeless pursuit. Certain herbs go well with certain kinds of alcohol. Mint is a great addition to Japanese whiskey, cilantro, and sage go well with vodka, and thyme pairs perfectly with gin.

Certain herbs such as rosemary and lavender can be overbearing and are best infused into a syrup instead of added directly to a cocktail. Many drinkers prefer a fruit syrup or honey infused with herbs to give their favorite cocktail an edge.

2) Use ice cubes to beautify your drinks

You can add herbs, berries, and even flowers to ice cubes purely for decoration. In this way, even designated drivers can enjoy beautiful alcohol-free “mocktails” not strongly flavored with herbs. To create stunning ice cubes, just wash, pick, and cut the herbs you wish to use. Add them to the water in an ice cube tray and put them in the freezer.

3) Use a fruit and vegetable wash when preparing herbs

Most herbs require minimal preparation besides washing and carefully picking the leaves or parts you wish to use. For example, basil works well with many different ingredients; it complements gin when combined with cucumber and watermelon, as well as honeydew when mixed with a spritzer; it also goes well with blueberries and vodka.

Most recipes call for leaves of fragrant basil added to the top of the drink before serving. Even if you buy organic basil or other herbs, it’s still worth using a fruit and vegetable wash. It will remove any trace of dirt, wax, or other contaminants, and ensure that the pure herb flavor shines through.

4) Make your own infused syrup

When handling intense flavors such as rosemary, creating an infused syrup will take some preparation. The May 2007 issue of Southern Living magazine features a simple recipe for rosemary syrup calling for one cup of sugar, one cup of water, and four fresh rosemary sprigs. Simply add the ingredients to a small saucepan and bring to a boil.

Stir, let the mixture cool for 30 minutes, and then pour it through a strainer to remove any errant leaves. You’ll have a flavorful syrup, perfect for adding to many cocktails. This recipe is also suitable for other strong flavors such as lavender, which can yield such well-liked pairings as a lemon-lavender cocktail containing vodka and a peach-lavender cocktail incorporating Bellini.

5) Try rosemary with this cocktail recipe

For a festive twist on the classic gin and tonic, try adding a sprig of rosemary to two ounces of your favorite gin and four ounces of tonic water. For simplicity, a sprig of rosemary makes a fantastic garnish. Alternatively, add some homemade rosemary-infused syrup for a subtle flavor. To transform the drink, add a half-ounce of grapefruit shrub for a sweet-and-sour kick that will help you get into the party spirit this New Year’s Eve!

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