Home Valley Advocate The Lush Garden

The Lush Garden



A guide to summer cocktails from the garden

It’s hard to imagine a better way to top off an afternoon in the garden than by settling into a lawn chair with a refreshing summer cocktail and admiring your work. Even better if you can actually harvest a few ingredients from that garden to add a satisfying twist to that beverage of choice. With that in mind, we asked a few area cocktail aficionados to suggest their favorite recipes. What follows is what they came up with. Cheers!

—Peter Vancini,  [email protected]  


The Dillinger

Courtesy of The Quarters, Hadley

2 ounces dill vodka
½ ounce simple sugar syrup
½ ounce lime juice

Make the dill vodka: For a 1 liter bottle of vodka, and I recommend a dry vodka, you will need 5-6 sprigs of fresh dill — you can even include the flowers. Rinse them well and add to your bottle of vodka. Let it sit for 3-5 days, feel free to check in with it and taste it, but the longer you let it sit the more strength your dill vodka will have.

Make the drink: Pour the vodka, sugar and lime juice into a shaker over ice, shake it good, strain it into a rocks glass over fresh ice, garnish with a slice of garden cucumber, a dash of salt, and a dill flower (optional) and enjoy some pickle goodness.


Strawberry Fields

Courtesy Center Square Grill, East Longmeadow

2 ounces watermelon-infused vodka (we suggest V-1)
½ ounce Cointreau
¾ ounce strawberry-basil simple syrup
½ ounce fresh lime juice
¼ ounce watermelon puree
1 basil leaf

To make the infused vodka: Add about a sixth of a melon per liter of vodka in a container and let sit for a week, then strain out the watermelon.

To make the cocktail: Pour the vodka, Cointreau, syrup, lime juice, and watermelon in a shaker, shake and serve in a martini glass or whatever you’ve got laying around.

Pro tip: Slap the basil leaf between your hands before adding it to the drink. This is supposed to bruise the leaf and facilitate the release of flavor into the cocktail.


The Lemon-Basil Gimlet

Courtesy of Magpie Wood-Fired Pizzeria, Greenfield

1 stem of basil (two leaves and a top for garnish)
2 ounces of Vodka
1 ounce fresh Lemon
½ ounce simple syrup
1 lemon wedge

Make the drink: Muddle the lemon and two basil leaves gently in a rocks glass. Add the vodka, lime juice, and sugar; stir. Garnish with fresh basil on top.

Pro tip: Make Basil Simple Syrup. Blanch a bunch of basil — submerge the leaves in boiling water for 15 seconds, remove it and plunge it into a prepared bowl of ice water for one minute. Remove the stems then put the leaves in a blender with simple syrup and turn it on high. Strain through a fine mesh strainer, and bottle.


Honorary  Gardener

Courtesy of The Green Room, Northampton

1½ ounces botanical gin (we suggest The Botanist)
¾ ounce lemon juice
½ ounce Saint Germain
¼ ounce simple syrup
5 slices cucumber, quartered

Add the cucumber and simple syrup to a shaker tin and muddle. Add the remaining ingredients. Add ice and shake for 10 seconds. Double strain the cocktail into a tall glass with fresh ice. Top with club soda. Garnish with a cucumber ribbon and voila!


Thyme for a  Cocktail

Courtesy of Duo Restaurant, Brattleboro

1 ounce Bourbon (we suggest Smugglers Notch)
½ ounce Amaretto Disaronno
½ ounce fresh squeezed lemon juice
1½ ounces blueberry/thyme syrup
2 ounces prosecco or Champagne

Make blueberry thyme syrup: 1 cup fresh thyme, 2 cups blueberries, ½ quart sugar. Boil the thyme, water, and sugar. Strain it. Add blueberries to the syrup. Purée. Strain. Makes 1 quart batch.

To make the drink: Pour bourbon, Amaretto, lemon, and thyme syrup into a shaker with ice. Shake and strain it into a couple of glasses. Top with prosecco.

Contact Peter Vancini at [email protected].