If you’re the type of person who’s more likely to drink a martini than eat a salad, you might think that a backyard garden is out of the question. But you also know that a few fresh fruits, veggies and herbs can transform the average cocktail into something special.
You may even discover that you have a knack for gardening — and a fresh cocktail tastes even better after a long day in the yard.
Whether you live in a small apartment or an expansive home complete with a big yard, just about anyone can grow a few plants that will give your home bar a boost. Perhaps squash and lettuce doesn’t motivate you to get your hands in the dirt but a mojito made with freshly picked mint just might. Here are our picks for the best plants for any cocktail lover.
Since wine is made from grapes, this fruit is an obvious choice for a cocktail lover. You likely won’t be able to get your hands on wine grapes nor will you actually make wine, but the vines alone will give the ambiance of a vineyard. Grapes can be frozen and make perfect ice cubes for white wine, sangria or any other drinks that you want to chill without watering them down. Grapes are perennial, so they will grow back year after year. They will require the support of a trellis or an arch as they grow. Grapes do well in a variety of climates, from cool to hot and dry.
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Cucumbers may not be the first thing to come to mind when you think of cocktails, but they make the perfect garnish. If you’re in the mood to sip something new, try our skinny emerald margarita using fresh cucumber puree. The light, refreshing taste of cucumbers means they complement both sweet and savory drinks. Cucumbers are relatively easy to grow and you’ll get a lot from just a few vines. If you don’t have a lot of space, cucumber plants can be trained to grow vertically, so they can be supported with a trellis or wire mesh.
Strawberries and raspberries are perennials, easy to grow and go great with a variety of cocktails. Berries typically need full sun (at least 6 hours a day), but small berry plants will do just fine in a pot. Berries can be frozen and used as ice or blended for mixed drinks — as in our very berry cocktail. Blueberries and various other berries are packed with antioxidants, making them a perfect snack, too.
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Herbs like mint and basil grow like weeds and can be planted in small pots or in any garden bed. All you need is a good deal of sun and the ability to water them. Mint will take over any small space, so it is best grown in a pot. Fresh herbs taste great in mojitos, mint juleps or in any mixed drink that needs a boost of fresh flavor. Fresh herbs can even be grown indoors as long as you have access to a sunny window. If you lack a green thumb, herbs are your best bet.
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If you live in a warm climate, citrus trees are a great option for a backyard cocktail garden. They not only provide great shade but also a ton of fruit. There are also dwarf versions of lemon and lime trees that can be planted in pots and taken indoors during cold months, so if you have enough light in your house, you can have fresh citrus all year round. If you have the space, grapefruit and orange trees will not only provide ample juice for a screwdriver or mimosa but you’ll also appreciate the fresh fruit for breakfast as well.