How to use botanicals to pimp your drink
At Lowlander, we’re fanatical about botanicals in every shape and form – we don’t just sing their praises when using them as natural flavourings in our beers, we also love to use them in dish pairings, and as garnishes for all manner of drinks.
A well-placed botanical can take cocktails, mixed drinks and soft drinks to the next level. Here are a few ideas for botanical garnishes to help you get creative at home.
The perfect G&T
Botanicals are ideal for sexing up a classic gin and tonic. Like Lowlander beers, gins depend on a precise mix of botanicals for their unique flavour, so the botanicals within your favourite style of gin – whether fruity and floral, herbal and aromatic, or full of complex spice – will dictate which garnish will bring out those flavours. And you don’t need to just stop at one – try garnishing one G&T with two or even three complementary botanicals.
As a rule, you should try anything once: for fruity and floral gins, consider lavender sprigs, muddled raspberries, or even edible rose petals as a garnish; for herbal, aromatic styles, go for slices of cucumber, a sprig of rosemary, or a wedge of orange; as for spicy gins, try adding whole peppercorns, cinnamon sticks, a slice of fresh ginger, or even slices of chilli to your finished drink. Most garnishes are best stirred into your G&T, but some – such as a smoking rosemary sprig – have the most impact if balanced across the top of your glass.
Serve your G&T Spanish style, in a fishbowl-sized wine glass, to better enjoy the aromatics of your chosen botanical.
If you want the cocktails you make at home to look and taste as good as a bartender creation, the answer is botanicals. Most classic cocktails suggest a garnish as part of the recipe, but that shouldn’t stop you from experimenting.
Start with something simple like a spiral of citrus zest: just cut a thin curl of citrus peel into a long strip, then wind it around a pencil or straw and hold for a few seconds, after which it should retain its springy shape. Balance this citrus spiral on the edge of your glass for instant wow-factor.
Edible flowers are another effortless way to score extra beauty points – check out this Lowlander cocktail recipe, garnished with an edible daisy. Another easy way to improve the presentation of your cocktail is by garnishing long drinks with botanicals that can double as stirrers: think lemongrass stalks, lengths of celery, cucumber batons or cinnamon sticks. Even liquorice sticks work well here, as in our Dockside Martini.
To pimp your presentation while adding an extra dimension of flavour, try a botanically-infused sugar or salt rim. Garnish dessert cocktails with a vanilla-sugar rim, or savoury cocktails with rosemary- or lemon-infused salt (or a powdered spice such as the paprika we use in this recipe). Just dip the rim of a coupe glass into sugar syrup or lemon juice, then into the salt/sugar preparation
Sexy soft drinks
Even soft drinks can benefit from botanicals. Planning a party? Add a berry to each well of your ice cube tray, add water and freeze as normal for eye-catching ice cubes that can be added to punches, homemade lemonade or fruit juices.
Work with the seasons: in warm weather, muddle chopped cucumber and strawberries with mint leaves for use in iced tea; in winter, add grown-up flavours to a comforting hot chocolate with cinnamon powder, ground coffee beans, grated nutmeg, or a pinch of chilli.
Botanical garnishes, Lowlander style
Most of our beers are designed to be enjoyed straight from the bottle (or can), but there’s nothing stopping you from adding a little pizzazz to proceedings. For example, pour our White Ale (made with Curaçao orange, elderflower and chamomile) into a glass and hook an orange wedge over the side to bring out the citrus notes of the beer; you could do the same with our Pale Ale and a wedge of grapefruit.
As for our low-alcohol Botanical Infusions, whose style is somewhere in-between a soft drink and a beer, we recommend that they’re served in a tumbler with a fresh-mint garnish. In both the zingy, spicy Ginger & Kaffir Lime Infusion and the refreshingly citrussy Yuzu & Pink Grapefruit flavour, the addition of mint awakens your senses as you take your first sip and bring the citrus aromatics to the fore.
Lastly, we’re a big fan of using our botanical beers in signature Lowlander cocktails – and of course we finish each of these with its own botanical garnish. Check out our beertail recipe library for some true botanical inspiration.
Want to explore the world of botanical garnishes further? Find out about growing your own garnish with Lowlander, sample some Lowlander beertails, or experiment with pairing beer and botanicals in dishes.