Backyard Cookout

Cheers to Spring!

Spring is finally in the air, coaxing tender, green herbs to emerge from the cool, thawed soil for our picking pleasure. Luckily, favorites like cilantro, dill, mint, and basil are hardy enough to tolerate spring’s fickle weather, yielding the first fresh flavors of the season—a gift from nature worth celebrating, right? So let’s raise a glass! Seasonally inspired cocktails are the perfect herbal concoction to get you into the spring of things. With so many fresh ingredients at your fingertips, there’s an abundance of delicious recipes, regardless of your palatal preferences. Here are some seasonal favorites to get the picking started and let the sipping begin.

On the Sweeter Side

Fresh herbs can be a bit bitter on their own, so for those who prefer something sweeter, adding a little fruit to the mix is the perfect solution.

Strawberry Basil Margarita

Strawberry Basil Margarita

  • 1 can (12 ounces) frozen limeade concentrate
  • 10 strawberries
  • 8 basil leaves
  • 2 to 2 1/2 cups tequila

Empty the limeade concentrate into a pitcher. Add 2 1/2 cans of water and 2 cups (or more!) of tequila. Hull the strawberries, slice lengthwise, and add to the pitcher. Crumple the basil a little in your hands to release the flavor and add it to the pitcher. Cover the pitcher and place it in the fridge overnight or for at least four hours. Garnish with fresh basil leaves. Enjoy!

Wild Turkey & Mint Sweet Tea

  • 4 cups water, divided
  • 2 T sugar
  • 4 black tea bags
  • 1 cup fresh mint leaves
  • 1.5 cups Wild Turkey bourbon
  • Juice from half of a lemon
  • Juice from half of a lime

In a large saucepan, boil 2 cups of water and the sugar. Remove from the heat and add the tea bags. Steep for 8 minutes and then discard the bags. Add the remaining 2 cups of water. Transfer to a pitcher and chill. Add the mint and crush with a wooden spoon until fragrant. Stir in the remaining ingredients. Serve in tall glasses filled with ice. Garnish with a mint sprig. Enjoy!

Bitter is Better

If you prefer a drink with a bit of a bite—one that grabs you by the back of your throat on the way down—here are some delicious, savory suggestions.

The Ultimate Dill

The Ultimate Dill

  • 2 cucumber slices
  • 1 dill sprig
  • 1 oz. lime juice
  • 2 oz. vodka
  • .5 oz. agave nectar

Simply mix and enjoy!

Cucumber Cilantro Smash

Cucumber Cilantro Smash

  • 1 oz. tequila
  • 1 1/3 oz. dry vermouth
  • 3/4 oz. fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 oz. simple syrup (1:1)
  • 5 fresh cucumber slices
  • 14 sprigs fresh cilantro

First, muddle all ingredients in a shaker. Next, add ice and shake, shake, shake, until the flavors are fully combined. Fine-strain into a rocks glass packed with crushed ice and garnish with cucumber slices and a sprig of cilantro. Enjoy!

Hold the Alcohol

For a refreshing drink for the kiddos, or for those who crave a flavorful cocktail without the buzz, substituting sparkling water or a beverage of choice for the alcohol is a satisfying option for any of the recipes above. Or try one of the following herbal mocktails loaded with flavor, not alcohol.

Raspberry Smash Mocktail

Raspberry Smash Mocktail

  • 6 raspberries
  • 4 leaves of basil
  • 2 tsp. granulated sugar
  • ½ lime, juiced
  • Sparkling water
  • Ice

Combine the raspberries, basil and sugar in a glass. Muddle until the raspberries are mushy. Add the juice of half a lime and ice. Now pour in the sparkling water. Enjoy!

Virgin Muddled Kiwi Mojito

  • 1/4 green kiwi, peeled
  • 1/3 lime, cut into thin wedges
  • 6 large mint leaves
  • Crushed ice
  • 2 tsp. agave nectar
  • Splash of ginger ale
  • Sparkling water

In a glass, muddle the kiwi, lime wedges, and mint leaves with the back of a spoon. Fill the glass 2/3 of the way with crushed ice. Add the agave nectar and splash of ginger ale and stir. Add the sparkling water and stir again. Garnish with a kiwi slice and whole mint leaves. Enjoy!

Did any of these recipes tempt your taste buds? If so, get mixing! If not, there are hundreds of cocktails and mocktails to choose from online and in specialty beverage books. You could spend an entire day searching for refreshing recipes, if you want. But don’t. Instead, try putting your own spring mixology to the test and create unique cocktail concoctions yourself.