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Here’s to Herbs!

Make the most of spring garden shoots with these zesty cocktails concocted with fresh herbs.

As soon as the snow starts to melt, it’s time to hit the garden centre and pick up all the little saplings and seedlings that will transform your outdoor space for the season. It’s best to start with the herb garden, as it’s the one edible plant you’re guaranteed to use—in the kitchen and in your cocktails, too. Nothing beats a fresh, zesty cocktail with fresh herbs.

And not just mint! Mojitos are amazing and juleps are grand but don’t be afraid to branch out. Almost any herb can work in the right cocktail: try basil with rum or gin. If you love that spicy, fresh kick of cilantro, sub that in wherever you see mint.

Here are four sensational fresh herb cocktail recipes that will help make the most of the bounty of your spring garden.

PRO TIP: Take a sprig and clap it between your hands to release the oils and aromas before you use it in a cocktail.

Appleton Estate Ginger & Spice

Ginger beer cocktails are often called mules or bucks. This one can be made the traditional way (with mint) or with cilantro for the adventurous cocktail lovers.

2 oz Appleton Estate rum

½ oz fresh lime juice

5 - 10 mint leaves (or cilantro)

4 oz ginger beer

Lime twist (for garnish)

Method: Shake first four ingredients over ice and strain into a highball glass. Top with ginger beer and garnish with a lime twist.

Reyka New Maid

There’s a reason we like clean spirits like vodka paired with crisp ingredients this time of year—they’re just a little brighter and lighter and more appropriate to the season. This Reyka cocktail can be made with thyme instead of mint to achieve a different flavour profile.

2 oz Reyka vodka

¼ oz simple syrup *

1 oz lime juice

1/8 cup mint leaves

3 thin slices cucumber

Method: Shake and fine-strain into iced rocks glass. Garnish with a mint sprig poked through a cucumber wheel.

Hendricks Gin Basil Smash

Simple, straightforward gin cocktails such as this one are perfect for spring sipping. With its subtle cucumber and citrusnotes, this cocktail is also excellent with shiso leaves instead of basil.

2 oz Hendrick’s gin

1 oz fresh lemon juice

½ oz simple syrup *

8 basil leaves

Method: Add basil to base of cocktail shaker and muddle gently. Add remaining ingredients and shake hard over ice. Strain over an ice-filled rock glass.

The Estate Mojito

This twist on a standard mojito swaps in basil for mint and a splash of lemon-lime pop, instead of the usual soda water. The sweet, fragrant smell alone will wipe away all those memories of shovelling snow.

2 oz Appleton Estate rum

1 oz fresh lime juice

1 tsp white sugar (superfine, if available)

¼ cup fresh basil

2 oz lemon-lime soda (Sprite or 7-Up)

Basil sprig and lime wedge

Method:Muddle the fresh basil leaves, cane sugar and fresh squeezed lime juice. Add Appleton Estate Signature Blend, pour over ice and top up with Sprite. Garnish with basil and lime.

-by By Christine Sismondo