Fresh Herbs for Cooking and Cocktails

With summer here, it is a great time to enhance drinks and meals using fresh herbs that are plucked from your backyard, windowsill pot or planter. Here is a list of our favorite herbs to add a boost of fresh flavor to your favorite dish or libation.

Basil

For its prolific leaves, brilliant color, and its popular fragrance, basil is loved by many. Basil is so famous that it is widely used all around the world in both fresh and dried capacities. Its flavor can complement many different cuisines, and it also offers health benefits like anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.

Tarragon

Tarragon is widely used in classic French cooking, particularly as part of a bearnaise sauce, as well as with chicken, fish, and vegetables. Since the leaves are so tender, they can be mixed in with other greens for salads or sprinkled over a finished dish much like parsley. The anise flavor goes well in tomato dishes, so we can see using it in panzanella and caprese salads, in tomato-based soups, or in tomato sauces for pasta. Tarragon can also be muddled or infused into simple syrup for use in cocktails and summer coolers.

Thyme

One of the most commonly called-for herbs, thyme is also one of the easiest to grow. Thyme is a more subtle herb, which, like basil, can work just as well in a cocktail as it does in a soup or mashed potatoes. Make lemon-thyme butter to slather on roast chicken, or combine it with sweet tea, vodka, fresh lemon juice, honey, and ice for a refreshing drink.

Dill

The dill herb provides a pleasant anise-like flavor to soups, seafoods, salads and sauces. The subtle taste of dill makes an excellent complement to foods with delicate flavors like shellfish and fish.

Lavender

Lavender tops many gardeners’ lists for ornamental value alone; resilience, drought tolerance and the fact that it’s a bee magnet only further illustrate why this sun-loving Mediterranean native is a great herb garden addition. Oh, and it’s a killer cocktail ingredient.

Mint

Grown in a pot by the kitchen, fresh mint refreshes everything from dressings, salads and sides to drinks and desserts with a sprig or two.

LEAH GROUT