A sprig of thyme, a slice of lemon, a dash of bitters… when summer rolls around you can find me in my kitchen dancing to Stevie Nicks and crafting delicious herbal mocktails for loved ones.
Whether you drink cocktails or mocktails, crafting drinks with herbal garnishes and remedies is a delicious way to bring plant magic and delight into your day.
But I wasn’t always good at making herbal mocktails. In fact, as someone who rarely drinks alcohol, I felt intimidated by the prospect of making fancy herbal drinks. Sure, I could brew a cup of tea, but how could I transform that simple tea into a show-stopping drink to share with friends?
Here’s the story of how I learned to craft the perfect herbal mocktail…
Before I became an herbalist, I worked a brief stint as a bartender in a hipster sandwich shop. Working this job was somewhat awkward as someone who rarely drinks and can’t ingest gluten. When people asked me how any of the beers on tap tasted I would say “hoppy” with an apologetic shrug.
But even though I was not an enthusiastic bartender, I continued to work the job because I needed to save up money for herbalism school. I would spend my long shifts sipping chamomile tea as I crafted syrups, shrubs, and elaborate garnishes — all the while longing for the day when I would finally be able to study herbs.
And then one day it hit me!
I was already studying herbs: the whole time I’d been bartending I was learning about the flavors of herbs and how to extract them. Whether I was making ginger syrup, a rosemary shrub, or a perfectly pungent Bloody Mary mix with horseradish, I was gaining invaluable experience experimenting with how to mix herbs and flavors in tasty and exciting ways.
Thrilled with this realization, I drew on my experience to start crafting my own delicious herbal mocktails.
Now, instead of sipping chamomile tea everyday at work, I would elevate my favorite tea into an herbal mocktail with a splash of ginger syrup, a dash of orange peel bitters, or even a simple thyme garnish. These extra herbal elements not only made the tea taste great, but they also added more medicinal qualities to that simple cup of tea.
If you’re ready to craft botanical drinks that taste good, offer healing plant constituents, and look beautiful, then check out these 5 recipes — you can experiment with adding them to your favorite tea or just enjoy them solo.
Quench your thirst with Emily’s favorite summertime cooler! Sweet and tart, sekanjabin is an Iranian syrup that makes a tasty beverage when mixed with plain or sparkling water.
Sparkling Hop Water
Hops are widely known to promote restful sleep and reduce anxiety. In this delicious sparkling water, they offer their healing constituents and the taste of an IPA without the alcohol content.
Tulsi Hibiscus Oxymel
With its tangy flavor, this uplifting adaptogenic oxymel makes an excellent addition to herbal mocktails and cocktails.
On hot summer days this refreshing, mineral-rich beverage is the perfect drink to replenish electrolytes. You can add a splash of tamarind juice to your herbal mocktail or drink it on its own.
This bitters recipe is perfect for daily use to support healthy digestion, and it makes a fantastic addition to botanical drinks. (If needed, you can substitute the alcohol in this recipe with vinegar.)