Herbal Cocktails

Brighten your cocktails with fresh herbs

In the summer we want our cocktails to be nice and refreshing. One of the best ways to perk up a cocktail for a hot day is to add fresh herbs. From mint juleps to a basil martini, we've rounded up our favorite herbal cocktail recipes.

The mint julep—a simple combination of mint, bourbon, and sugar virtually synonymous with the Kentucky Derby—is a super variable drink. For a very old-school twist, try replacing the bourbon with cognac, a popular spirit in the antebellum South. If you want something bitter, make your julep with vegetal Cynar and effervescent grapefruit soda. Or try our Swedish julep made with mint aquavit and rum.

Basil is another bright herb perfect for cocktails. Chopped basil leaves lend crispness to a simple vodka martini. Watermelon and basil is a classic pairing—we combine them with tequila, lime juice, and yellow Chartreuse. In the Poddington Pea, a basil simple syrup is shaken with gin, sherry, mint, and blanched peas.`

Delicate, floral lavender lends itself to elegant drinks. Our lavender paloma is made with grapefruit juice, mezcal, and a lavender simple syrup and served in a glass with a lavender salt rim. Or try a lavender sour with gin, lemon juice, green Chartreuse, a lavender simple syrup, and a sprinkling of lavender dust.

Find all of these drinks and more in our collection of herbal cocktail recipes.

Garden Kitchen Sink Gimlet
Garden Kitchen Sink Gimlet
This boozy gin cocktail uses up an abundance of mint, cucumber, and blackberries—it's summer in a highball.Matt Taylor-Gross
Watermelon-Basil Cocktail
Watermelon-Basil Cocktail
Exceedingly well-balanced, this juicy cocktail from John Karangis of Union Square Events gets its sweetness from yellow watermelon, herbal freshness from Chartreuse and basil, and an astringent kick from tequila. While red watermelon will work in a pinch, you won't get the clarity of color unless you spring for the yellow.Matt Taylor-Gross
Romero And Julieta Cocktail
Romero and Julieta
Danny Sanchez of Rancho Pescadero in Mexico gave us the recipe for this vibrant, summery cocktail in honor of our 21st birthday. He starts with a tea made from dried hibiscus, then adds tequila, a rosemary-infused simple syrup, and lime juice.Matt Taylor-Gross
Saggio
Saggio
Muddled sage leaves add an earthy freshness to this blueberry vodka and white cranberry potion from Lavo nightclub and restaurant in Las Vegas.Laura Sant
Leaf and Spear
Leaf and Spear, Kale Rum Cocktail
This green cocktail combines kale-infused rum with a housemade green harissa syrup, which adds sugar for balance and a hint of jalapeño for pop.Joseph De Leo
Lavender Paloma
Lavender Paloma
Our twist on the classic tequila and grapefruit cocktail uses mezcal, fresh grapefruit juice, and lavender simple syrup for a drink that's simultaneously smoky, bright, and floral.Laura Sant
The Verbena and Mint
The Verbena and Mint Cocktail
Bar manager Jon di Pinto of Street ADL in Adelaide, South Australia, combines lemon verbena and gin for a crisp, refreshing summer cocktail.Matt Taylor-Gross
Strawberry-Lillet Crush
Strawberry-Lillet Crush
Muddled strawberries and mint star in a refreshing, lightly sweet cocktail that packs a punch. Digital producer Michellina Jones makes it all summer long; she likes to use Plymouth gin, which has a balanced, restrained flavor profile that won't overwhelm the other flavors in the drink, but you can substitute any gin you prefer.Farideh Sadeghin
The Poddington Pea
The Poddington Pea
Peas might seem out of place in a drink, but their vegetal sweetness is perfect for this basil-gin cocktail.Joseph De Leo
Basil Martini
Basil Martini
Basil-infused vodka gives this simple cocktail a light, crisp edge.Matt Taylor-Gross
99 Problems But An Herb Ain't One
99 Problems Cocktail
Gin, lemongrass, ginger, and kaffir lime combine in this savory cocktail from Alex Straus of LA's E.P. & L.P., who created it to complement the restaurant's spicier dishes.Matt Taylor-Gross
Lavender Cocktail
Lavender Sour
JB Bernstein, bar manager at Vernick Food & Drink in Philadelphia, celebrates summer with this simple, floral gin cocktail, sweetened with lavender-infused syrup and garnished with lavender dust.Matt Taylor-Gross
Elderflower Old Fashioned
Elderflower Old Fashioned
Elderflower liqueur replaces the traditional sugar cube in this floral twist on an old favorite.Laura Sant
Picante de la Casa
Picante de la Casa
Cool muddled cilantro balances the heat from a fresh Fresno chile in this sweet-spicy refresher.Farideh Sadeghin
Verano
Verano
Eamon Rockey of Manhattan's Betony restaurant cures grapefruit peel in granulated sugar to create oleo-saccharum, the citrusy syrup that goes into this tarragon-laced drink.Ingalls Photography
Bar Code Tonic
Bar Code Tonic
Tonic water derives its bitterness from quinine, a purified substance derived from the bark of the cinchona tree. Paired with gin, tonic water makes for one of summer’s most refreshing cocktails. At Bar Code in Bellevue, Washington, the gin and tonic is made in a unique manner: The gin itself is infused with cinchona bark, citrus, and other aromatics. Then, rather than tonic, soda water is added to make the drink.Ingalls Photography
Queen Victoria Tonic
Queen Victoria Tonic
This highball uses a homemade tonic infused with raspberry-flavored orris root and peppery, flowery grains of paradise to complement the specific flavor profile of Bombay Sapphire gin.Ingalls Photography
Hierba Gin and Tonic
Hierba Gin and Tonic
At Spanish-born chef José Andrés’ U.S. restaurants, including the Washington, D.C.– and Las Vegas–based tapas bars called Jaleo, at least ten different variations on the gin and tonic are served. One of our favorites is this pretty version that’s dressed with whole pink peppercorns, citrus, and rosemary. A dry gin lets the aromatic garnishes shine.Ingalls Photography
Conquistador Gin and Tonic
Conquistador
At San Francisco's Coqueta restaurant, this fruity gin and tonic is mixed with a homemade citrus-and-fennel tonic and a spiced apple-celery juice, then garnished with fragrant fennel and star anise.Ingalls Photography
Ultimate Gin and Tonic
Ultimate Gin and Tonic
Citrus wheels and edible flowers lend beautiful color to a classic gin and tonic. Get the recipe for Ultimate Gin and TonicTodd Coleman
The Truffle Pig, Mushroom Cocktail
The Truffle Pig
Recently some unexpected vegetables—ramps, butternut squash, and beets—have started showing up in creative cocktails. Now, mushrooms are getting in on the fun(gus). At Dallas farm-to-table restaurant FT33, The Truffle Pig features a refreshing mix of tequila, lemon juice, and muddled mushrooms sweetened with rosemary-cinnamon honey. Topping it off is a seared hen of the woods mushroom.Ingalls Photography
Swedish Mint Julep
Swedish Mint Julep
In addition to using caraway and dill—the most traditional flavors for aquavit—in Sweden, home cooks make the spirit with an infinite variety of spices, herbs, and other flavorful botanicals.Helen Rosner
Strawberry Moonshine Julep
Strawberry Moonshine Julep
White whiskey takes the place of bourbon in this summery interpretation of a julep. Get the recipe for Strawberry Moonshine Julep »Maxime Iattoni
The Wild Ruffian
The Wild Ruffian
Inspired by a recipe developed by mixologist Lynn House of the Chicago restaurant Blackbird, this is an ideal cocktail to show off the fruity side of Cognac. Peach preserves meld beautifully with the spirit's soft sweetness, while mint adds a bright finish.Maxime Iattoni
Chartreuse Smash
Chartreuse Smash
This sweet (but not too sweet) cocktail is a terrific vehicle for Chartreuse; when we tested it, it converted even the most adamant opponents to the herbal, bright-green liqueur.Maxime Iattoni
Apricot Blossom
Apricot Blossom
This surprisingly balanced cocktail offers up layers of fruit, spice, and sweetness, with a hint of vanilla from the rum.RJ Mickelson
The Libertine
The Libertine
Rosemary brings an herbal note to this whiskey drink.Todd Coleman
Mezcalita de Piña
Mezcalita de Piña
Made with mezcal, grilled pineapple, jalapeño, and lime, this festive take on the classic margarita is smoky, sweet, and spicy, with an herbaceous kick from cilantro.Todd Coleman
Spicy Shiso Smash
Spicy Shiso Smash
Shiso leaves muddled with spicy Thai red chile and slices of cooling cucumber make for a refreshing and festive cocktail.Maxime Iattoni
The Green Thumb
The Green Thumb
In this refreshing spring cocktail, muddled basil and tarragon add freshness and intensify Pernod's green hue, while a squirt of fresh lime juice and splash of champagne cut through the sweet anise flavor.Helen Rosner
Thousand-Dollar Mint Julep
Thousand-Dollar Mint Julep
This version of the classic three-ingredient cocktail—which combines three parts bourbon to one part of a simple syrup bracingly infused with fresh spearmint—is sanctioned by the Kentucky Derby itself as their official mint julep recipe.Helen Rosner
Vodka Lavender Thyme Lemonade
Vodka Lavender Thyme Lemonade
This lemonade gains herbaceous depth from lavender and thyme, while vodka delivers a good, clean punch.Todd Coleman
Pineapple Mojito
Pineapple Mojito
This twist on a mojito combines pineapple- and coconut-infused rum with fresh pineapple and mint for a fruity, vacation-inspired drink.Helen Rosner
The Charleston Fizz
The Charleston Fizz
The floral flavor of gin is a natural match for bright grapefruit and elderflower liqueur in a refreshing cocktail. Fresh tarragon adds an aromatic, peppery anise note.Khushbu Shah
Antebellum Mint Julep
Antebellum Mint Julep
Before the Civil War made foreign products hard to come by in the South, French cognac was the preferred liquor in a mint julep.Michael Kraus
Cynar Julep
Cynar Julep
Cynar's vegetal bitterness, derived primarily from artichokes, pairs nicely with mint and grapefruit soda in this refreshing julep variation.Helen Rosner