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Gardening—one of life’s simple pleasures. The thing is, planting and maintaining a garden isn’t always so simple, in fact, it takes a lot of work and patience. So if you’re like us and want to have a few homegrown ingredients around, then let us introduce you to the easy-to-start herb garden—or as we like to call it, the cocktail herb garden. Because while yes, having a few fresh herbs can always come in handy for your recipes, we especially love using them in our summer cocktails—they take your beverages from good to great. Whether you muddle, infuse, or simply use as a garnish, here are a few must-have herbs to plant today.

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Mint

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Very popular (and so refreshing!) in summer drinks and dishes, mint is an essential herb to have around. Make sure to plant it in a small container or pot, as mint grows and spreads like weeds. Keep the soil consistently moist and water when the top inch gets dry. Read more tips for mint care here.

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Basil

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Basil, another warm-weather must-have, is easy to grow and care for, especially in a pot or container. You'll want to space the seeds 12 to 18 inches apart, giving the plant plenty of room to grow. Keep the soil moist, not soggy, for your basil to really flourish. Read more tips for basil care here.

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Thyme

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This aromatic herb does best in a clay pot or planter, allowing it to dry out between waterings. Thyme doesn't do well in soggy root conditions, so you'll need a pot with drainage holes. Read more tips for thyme care here.

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THE COCKTAIL RECIPES

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And of course, we can't get you inspired to start a cocktail herb garden without a few herb-focused cocktail recipes, now can we? Here are 3 of our favorites, perfect for entertaining or simply enjoying alone after a long day...

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Spiked Ginger-Mint Lemonade

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Ingredients
Syrup:
1/2 cup chopped mint
1/2 cup chopped peeled ginger
1 cup sugar
Cocktail and assembly:
1 (750-ml) bottle lemon-flavored vodka
2 cups fresh lemon juice
Lemon wheels and mint leaves (for serving)

Directions
Syrup:
Bring mint, ginger, sugar, and 2 cups water to a simmer in a small saucepan over medium heat, whisking to dissolve sugar. Remove from heat and let sit 1 hour. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a large measuring glass or a small bowl; let ginger-mint syrup cool completely. Cover and chill until cold, at least 30 minutes.
Cocktail:
Combine vodka, lemon juice, ginger-mint syrup, and 4 cups water in a punch bowl and stir well. Ladle spiked lemonade into ice-filled glasses and garnish with lemon wheels and mint leaves.

Yields 8 servings
Recipe from Epicurious

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Gin Basil Grapefruit Cocktail

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Ingredients
For the syrup:
3/ 4 cup granulated sugar
3/ 4 cup water
1 whole grapefruit rind
Fresh basil
For the cocktail:
2 ounces gin
1 1/ 2 ounces fresh grapefruit juice
3/ 4 cup basil grapefruit syrup
1/ 2 ounce egg white
Basil leaf, garnish

Directions
Syrup:
Add sugar, water, and grapefruit rind to a small saucepan and bring to a boil until sugar has completely dissolved. Add a couple basil leaves and reduce to a simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and strain into a glass container. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 15 minutes prior to use in cocktail.
Cocktail:
Add ingredients to a shaker. Shake for 30 seconds. Add ice and shake for another 30 seconds. Strain into a chilled coupe glass. Garnish with a basil leaf.

Recipe from thefeedfeed

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Honey Thyme Margarita

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Ingredients
For the honey thyme syrup:
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup liquid honey
6 3-inch sprigs fresh thyme
For the cocktail:
1 1/2 oz silver tequila
3/4 oz fresh squeezed lime juice
3/4 oz fresh squeezed grapefruit juice
1/2 oz orange liqueur, like Cointreu
1/2 oz honey thyme syrup
Coarse sea salt, to rim serving glass

Directions
Syrup:
Add water, honey, and thyme to a heavy bottomed sauce pot. Bring to a simmer until honey has dissolved. Remove from heat and let thyme steep for 30 minutes. Strain out thyme. Transfer syrup to airtight container and keep at room temperature.
Cocktail:
Fill cocktail shaker with ice. Add tequila, lime juice, grapefruit juice, orange liqueur, and syrup. Shake well until well chilled. Strain into a salt-rimmed serving glass.

Recipe from The Little Epicurean

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