Fresh herbs must be used for cocktails, dried simply do not have the same oils and essence needed for beverages. Basil leaves, mint, tarragon, rosemary, thyme, sage, and cilantro are a few choices that work great in a cocktail.
To get the full flavor of the herbs, the best thing to do is to keep the herbs whole and then muddle them with sugar and fresh fruits. You need to release the oils from the leaves in order to get the best flavor. You can also garnish the cocktails with a few of the leaves so your guests know what they are made with.
Another option to use fresh herbs in cocktails is to infuse the liquor you are using. For example, vodka works great when infused as does gin or even white rum. Just be sure to use fresh herbs and good liquor.
Most times, herbs should be an accompaniment to another flavor in the cocktail. For example, basil works well when combined with orange or strawberry and thyme pairs well with peach or any kind of berry. Mint however can be used on its own, like in a classic mojito. Simply taste test a few combinations or herbs and fruits to see which pairs the best.
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