I put Pop Rocks in a frozen cocktail once. And it worked surprisingly well. I also used to keep gummy sharks behind the bar, in case I wanted to confuse someone with the best garnish of all time, and, during a nerdier stretch of my bartending days, I occasionally used citric acid to tone down the sweetness of a drink.
My point is, you can add anything to a cocktail. Granted, some ingredients definitely work better than others - which brings me to my next topic:
Using Produce In Your Cocktails
It’s summer in the Northern Hemisphere, which means there’s probably a farmers market near you where you can pick up some things that, until recently, were growing out of the earth. And, while you could always eat your fruits and vegetables, you could also act like an unsupervised adult human being and make a drink with them instead. As a rule of thumb, if something is edible, it can go in a cocktail.
Let’s start with fruits. To add one to a drink, all you need to know is how sweet and acidic it is. Watermelon and cantaloupe juice don’t have a ton of sugar or acidity - so they can be plugged right into most cocktails. Things like pear and papaya juice, on the other hand, tend to be thick and syrupy, so you’ll want to dial back any other sweet ingredients. As for high-acid/low-sugar fruits, well, there aren’t actually that many. And that’s why lemons and limes deserve monuments in all major metropolitan areas.
With herbs, things are simpler. Leafy green herbs like basil, thyme, dill, and shiso will enhance most cocktails the way a throw pillow improves a couch or a neck tattoo really spruces up a neck. Herbs are also great for infused simple syrup (just add them to your syrup, and leave the container in your fridge overnight), or, at the very least, they can function as gourmet-looking garnishes for otherwise lazy cocktails.
Not sure where to start? Here are a few ideas. Add some dill to a gin or vodka Gimlet. Or throw some sage in your shaker the next time you make a Gold Rush. Or, if those two plans somehow sound too labor-intensive, just garnish your next Negroni with a few sprigs of rosemary. They’ll provide a nice aroma, add some subtle flavor, and also maybe tickle your nose (if you’re into that sort of thing).
You might be wondering why I haven’t mentioned vegetables yet, and there’s a simple answer for that. The most commonly used “vegetables” in cocktails are actually fruits. Cucumbers and peppers are fruits, for example, and snap pea pods are as well. Want to know how to use them in a drink? Check out the latest cocktails below. All of these drinks make use of at least one fruit or herb you probably don’t associate with alcoholic beverages. And this makes them seem slightly fancier and more difficult to make than they actually are. A Snap Pea Gimlet, for example, is really just a regular Gimlet with muddled snap peas - and once you make one, you’ll probably start staring at other green things in grocery stores, wondering if you can make cocktails out of them. The answer is yes, you can. Here’s how.
One day, you might become a party magician. When that happens, you’re going to need at least one good trick - like turning a regular Margarita into a Watermelon Margarita. It might sound complicated, but it only requires one additional ingredient, and you’ll never guess what it is.
How It Tastes: Smooth, Tart, Like Someone Told Summer To Get In A Glass
Drink If You Like: Margaritas, Watermelon
Snap Pea Gimlet
If you’re wondering why you’d ever put a vegetable in a cocktail, there’s something you should know. A snap pea pod is actually a fruit. It’s a crisp, flavorful fruit that doesn’t have much sugar, and, for some reason, it works especially well in a Gimlet. Maybe it’s because most gins already have a confusing number of flavors going on, or maybe it’s because limes are green and so are peas.
How It Tastes: Crisp, Limey, Confusingly Good
Drink If You Like: Gimlets, Salads
Strawberry Basil Daiquiri
If this drink sounds delicious, that’s because it is, and if you think it’ll be too hard for you to make, you need to boost your self-esteem. This eight-syllable cocktail is easy to make, and the only time-consuming part of this drink is the strawberry syrup which takes around 30 minutes.
How It Tastes: Slightly Sweet, Complex, Like It Should Cost $20
Drink If You Like: Daiquiris, Sorbet, A Little Bit Of Basil On Your Pizza