Summer in a Glass: 5 Refreshing Botanical Beverages

Summer is not just hot, it is draining, particularly due to the high humidity levels and overall weather volatility.

Summer is not just hot, it is draining, particularly due to the high humidity levels and overall weather volatility. In these situations, most people indulge in drinking plenty of fluids, trying to recover some of the fluid lost by sweating because of the scorching sun.

When it comes to preferred beverages, a YouGov survey suggests consumers are becoming less and less interested in soft drinks, particularly the ones that can be found on the market currently, while the share of people who prefer healthier options has remained stable (30%). Paired with the pandemic-induced DIY craze and the documented uptick in preference for cordials and smoothies, it is just the right environment to try at-home prepared drinks.

Shannen Godwin, spokesperson for J Parker’s, one of the biggest online retailers for plants and bulbs in the UK, says, “During this time at home, people realised that they can do so much with what’s available in their garden, and everyone has rediscovered a passion for getting crafty. In the past few weeks, a seasonal hobby that has surged in popularity is mixology. Organic refreshing summer drinks, such as iced teas and botanical cocktails, don’t necessarily need you to leave the house for the store. There are many benefits that you can enjoy if opting for homemade drinks full of ingredients right from your garden.”

From the depths of your garden, and right into the glass, topped with ice, here are five recipes J Parker’s swears by for a refreshing summer:

Why choose botanical drinks?

Many plants have the benefit of boosting energy, assisting in relaxation, supporting the immune system, burning fat, and enhancing memory. These effects come near-instant, and not just in the form of dietary supplements or teas, as is commonly misconceived. In fact, it can be as simple as sprinkling some mint in the daily water intake, or including something new in your favourite drink. For example, botanicals such as hibiscus are known to improve the health of the heart and upper respiratory tract, but no one said hibiscus can’t be functional as well as fun – in the gin it goes!

The new summer rule

Creating a botanical drink is a rather simple affair that requires but one rule of thumb, which is now also the new rule to the summer game. No matter what the drink of choice is, at least one fresh botanical from the garden is to be included.

Watermelon Iced Tea

Summer fruits make a delicious and healthy addition to any summer iced tea recipe. Make it more special with the use of watermelon, for an extra thirst-quenching and flavourful touch.

Bring any nice black tea (or other strong-flavoured one that’s decaffeinated if needed) to a boil, and let it cool down. Create a watermelon agua fresca by mixing it, ideally blended, with lemon and mint from the garden. Add the cooled down tea, and top with pieces of watermelon and ice for an aesthetically pleasing and refreshing kick.

Alternatively, fresh strawberries can be used instead of the watermelon to create a strawberry sencha fresca.

Elderflower Cordial Cocktail

Those who have not tried cordial are missing out on various delicious drinks. This elderflower example is quick and easy, and can accommodate the thirst of 20 people.

Take a 1750mm bottle of dry rose wine (not sparkling) and mix it with around 20 oz. of St-Germain elderflower liqueur – store bought, unless some Sambucus nigra is available in the garden.  Fill large wine glasses or short tumblers, depending on preference, with ice and add 2 oz. of the elderflower mix.

Mix 30 oz. club soda with raspberry to taste, and pour on top of everything else. The raspberry can also be used as decoration. For the right amount of fizziness, the club soda mix should be added right before serving.

Gin Garden Cocktail

Any true fan of gin-based cocktails knows what a fresh botanical touch can do. The most popular plants for the best herbaceous and fragrant tastes are juniper, hibiscus, elderflower, but also just about anything one can find in the garden.

The all-time classic cocktail, French 75, is a mix that incorporates gin, lemon, and hibiscus to create a wonderful botanical drink, while a heavily garden-themed one would also include rose, and elderflower. Another classic relies on the taste of elderflower, apple, and cucumber blending smoothly with the gin.  Other variations include mint and basil in the mix – there’s a cocktail for every mood!

Rose Water Iced Tea

Rose-flavoured drinks add a special touch to any beverage, so naturally rosewater iced tea will impress the guests at any garden party. In fact you can point out that the dried rose buds and rose water used for the subtle flavor and aroma infused into the tea are right from the garden. For an extra visually appealing look, red roses are the best choice, as the drinks can be served in clear glasses to preserve the fun,  lively appearance.

Gin and Basil Smash

The popularity vote understandably goes to the cocktail which one can never go wrong with, or forget the recipe to – just take gin, lemon, and basil, muddle them up, and it’s good to go.

For those who are not fans of making drinks without precise measurement, 50ml of gin, 12.5ml of sugar syrup, 25ml lemon juice, and 8 basil leaves is all that is needed. To be served in an old-fashioned style glass, with ice and basil leaves for decoration.

Anything is better when made fun

While some people wouldn’t associate ‘gardening’ with ‘fun’, the benefits certainly do not go unnoticed when you have everything you need for a delicious beverage right at  the back of the house. Whether in the garden or inside, with the right plants drinks are never boring, even during the hottest month.

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