Happy Hour in the Garden


This summer, cool off with a cocktail infused with a botanical twist. Aromatic herbs, tart citrus, sweet berries and even crisp cucumbers combine for refreshing combinations best enjoyed al fresco. Our favorite area mixologists share their recipes for garden-inspired summertime sips.


the-artisanThe Artisan


Makes 1 drink

2 ounces limoncello

1 ounce vodka

½ tablespoon simple syrup

2 leafs fresh basil 

1 lemon wedge

Garnish: lemon twist and fresh basil leaves

Place ingredients except garnish into a cocktail shaker; add ice. Shake for 10 to 15 seconds. Strain through a mesh sieve into a martini glass.

Garnish with a lemon twist and fresh basil leaves.


peach-margPeach Margarita

The Ravenous Pig

Makes 1 drink

Cilantro Sea Salt (recipe follows)

2½ ounces tequila

1 ounce dry orange curacao  liqueur 

3 tablespoons Cilantro-Peach Puree (recipe follows)

Fresh lime juice, to taste

Simple Syrup (recipe follows), to taste

Moisten rim of a rocks glass with a lime wedge. Dip into Cilantro Sea Salt.

Add tequila, orange curacao and Cilantro-Peach Puree to glass, stirring to combine. Add fresh lime juice and Simple Syrup to taste. Add ice and serve immediately.

Simple Syrup

1 cup water 

1 cup sugar 

Combine water and sugar in a small pan over medium heat. Cook, stirring, until sugar is dissolved. Cool completely before using.

Cilantro-Peach Puree

Florida peaches, halved, pits removed

¼ cup finely chopped fresh cilantro

Preheat a grill to medium heat. Grill peaches until very tender. Roughly chop and place in a blender; blend until very smooth.

Stir cilantro into peach puree.

Cilantro Sea Salt

1 cup loosely packed fresh cilantro leaves

¼ cup coarse sea salt

Preheat oven to its lowest setting.

Place cilantro on a sheet pan and place in oven for 1 hour, or until cilantro is brittle and dry.

Finely chop cilantro and stir into salt.


Chocolate-Kissed Strawberry Martini

Pilar’s Martini

Makes 1 drink

6 chocolate-mint leaves

 2 to 3 fresh strawberries

2 ounces chocolate vodka

¾ ounce Grand Marnier

Dash of simple syrup

Garnish: chocolate-covered strawberries

Place mint leaves and strawberries in a martini shaker and muddle gently. Add remaining ingredients except garnish. Add ice and shake 20 times.

Strain into a chilled martini glass, and garnish with a chocolate-covered strawberry.




Cucumber Mojito

The Imperial, Sanford

Makes 1 drink

4 to 6 fresh mint leaves

2 lime wedges

2 slices cucumber, halved 

¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons simple syrup (recipe follows)

2 ounces gin

½ ounce St. Germain liqueur 

Club soda, to taste

Combine lime wedges, cucumber, mint, and sugar in the bottom of a cocktail shaker glass. Muddle until mint is bruised and limes and cucumbers have released juice.

Add gin, St. Germain and ice. Shake.

Pour into a rocks glass and top with club soda.

Simple Syrup

1 cup water 

1 cup sugar 

Combine water and sugar in a small pan over medium heat. Cook, stirring, until sugar is dissolved. Cool completely before using.


ruby-red-basil2Ruby Red Basil Cocktail

Spencer’s for Steaks and Chops

Makes 1 drink

½ ounce vodka

1 ounce St. Germain liqueur 

Splash ruby red grapefruit juice, or to taste

3 to 4 leaves fresh basil

Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker; add ice and shake 5 seconds. Pour without straining.



Loft 55

1½ ounces Van Gogh açai-blueberry vodka

1 ounce St. Germain liqueur 

¼ teaspoon freshly grated ginger  

6 fresh blueberries

¼ teaspoon lime zest

Spicy ginger beer (such as Fevertree or Reed’s), to taste

Muddle blueberries, lime zest, and ginger in a rocks glass. Add vodka and St. Germaine, stirring to combine. Add ice and top off with spicy ginger beer.


green-envyGreen With Envy

White Wolf Café

Makes 1 drink

3 thin slices cucumber

2 slices fresh jalapeño

½ tablespoon fresh lemon juice

½ tablespoon agave nectar

1½ ounces cucumber vodka

½ ounce ginger liqueur 

3 fresh cilantro sprigs

Place cucumber, jalapeño, lemon juice and agave nectar into a cocktail shaker. Muddle until cucumber is in small pieces, then add ice, cucumber vodka, ginger liqueur and cilantro. (If you add the cilantro when muddling it will overpower the drink.)

Shake once. Pour without straining.


Serrano Thyme Mandarin Martini

RusTeak Restaurant and Wine Bar

¼-inch slice of Serrano pepper, plus extra for garnish

½ ounce pear nectar

1 long stem of fresh thyme, plus extra for garnish

1 lemon wedge 

1 orange wedge

1½ ounces 360 Mandarin Vodka

1 ounce orange juice

Splash of cranberry juice

Sugar for garnish

Put Serrano pepper slice 1/4″ in cocktail shaker, add pear nectar and muddle until pepper breaks apart slightly and releases flavor. Be cautious not to over muddle. Add thyme (do not pick leaves off, use entire stem) muddle, then add orange and lemon and muddle wedges.

2  Fill shaker halfway with ice, add the rest of the ingredients and shake vigorously. Fill shaker the rest of the way with ice to serve as a strainer for the thyme leaves and pour into a martini glass garnished with sugar on one third of the rim. Float a Serrano slice in martini and rest a thyme stem on rim.