Summer’s bounty of botanicals, an abundance of herbs, flowers, vegetables and fruits, are the culinary-minded bartender’s dream. The season’s best ingredients are often also delicate, the type that can easily be drowned out by the aeration, agitation and dilution of shaking. However, it only takes a bit of prep and planning to modify these ingredients in a way that will shine in a shaken drink—good thing, since sunshine and lengthening days practically demand the refreshment a cocktail shaker can provide.
One simple shortcut to creating a harmonious shaken summer cocktail is to conjure up one of the complementary flavor pairings that the season is rife with—such as strawberry-rhubarb, lemon-mint or blueberry-basil—then transform it into a liquid form to be mixed in a variety of cocktails. Another hack is to look at the foundation of your base spirit and amplify or complement the flavors found within it. In the case of The Botanist gin, that makes for 31 curated botanicals to choose from, spanning 14 plant families, 22 of which are foraged on Islay—an array of inspiration for your next seasonal cocktail.
From a tea- and herb-laced mule to a juicy take on a bitter aperitivo, here are three summer-ready shaken drinks that double down on The Botanist’s botanical profile, along with techniques that can be used to harness complementary flavors any time of year.
In this twist on the Gin-Gin Mule, the aromatics are meant to replicate the sensation of smelling fresh herbs and the uplifting greenness of summer. Here, The Botanist gin is infused with green tea, which provides a tannic backbone, and paired with a textural “garden syrup” made from toasted fennel seeds, mint and basil stems. Unlike most syrups, which call for the ingredients to be cooked on the stovetop, those made with fragile herbs can instead be pulse-blended with chilled water and sugar, an approach that retains their vibrant colors and fresh flavors. A topper of spicy ginger beer lifts the subtle mentholated aromas of The Botanist, which are amplified by the bouquet of fresh herbs that garnish the transportive cocktail.
The Pollinator, a floral twist on the Prohibition-era Bee’s Knees, features fresh lavender, one of summer’s most colorful and aromatic botanicals. Here, it’s dried and brewed into an aromatic tisane, which is then used to dilute local honey to create an infused syrup. Pisco and cardamom add more layers to the backbone of spice and herbs, all of which highlight the juniper, meadowsweet, heather and elderflower in The Botanist gin base. The result is a cocktail with an earthy-floral depth and unctuous mouthfeel, a summer palate-cleanser if there ever was one.
Take the best of a season’s produce, and make it bitter. Strawberry Fields is a juicy Negroni riff featuring one of summer’s most popular pairings, strawberry and rhubarb, in cordial format. That’s paired with orange juice and, in place of vermouth, fino sherry, which brings necessary dryness and salinity to the bold fruit of the other ingredients. Beneath those bright flavors runs a bass line of The Botanist gin, whose notes of earthy and sweet orris root, wood sage and thyme become pronounced in this cocktail.