Four Whiskey Cocktail Garnishes Straight from the Summer Garden - The Whiskey Wash

Four Whiskey Cocktail Garnishes Straight from the Summer Garden

Whether you’re enjoying your morning coffee while watering before work, or sinking into the shady back corner with a whiskey cocktail to survey your domain, there are few better places for a drink than the garden.

Gardens are a mercifully dogma-free zone, at least when it comes to what’s in your glass. Boozy drinks are great, but sometimes herbal sun tea or ice-cold Topo Chico is what the moment calls for. Rosé just tastes better when enjoyed al fresco, preferably accompanied by a bowl of olives and a frothy new magazine. Hell, there’s a whole class of beers identified by their suitability to the lawn mowing recovery period.

But over the years, I’ve found that the peak drinking-in-the-garden experience happens when the drink is completed with a garnish plucked right from the yard. Luckily for whiskey lovers, pairing garden bounty with whiskey is easier than yanking a stray shotweed from your tomato patch. And for the truly motivated, tucking a new plant or two into your existing scheme just for cocktails can make gardening even more fun.


Mint JulepThe classic julep garnish grows with abandon given little more than a bit of sunlight and plenty of water. In fact, it grows so well that it’s a good idea to plant it in a pot, or its runners will take over any space they can find. Keep it moist enough, and mint can even thrive on an apartment windowsill, fire escape, or balcony. There are lots of varieties of mint, but for a classic cocktail flavor, you’ll want peppermint.

Borage flowers

Edible flowers are definitely having a moment, and cocktails are one place where these blue, cucumber-flavored flowers can really shine. Stately and sweetly fuzzy, the borage plant is a bee-attracting garden addition that enthusiastically reseeds, which means you might have a dozen next year if you’re not on top of the weeding.

But you might want a dozen after all. Borage flowers are a classic accompaniment to a Pimm’s Cup, but they’re also a great way to fancy up a bourbon-and-lemonade, the lazy woman’s answer to a whiskey sour. Just sprinkle a few borage petals into your glass, settle into the hammock, and imagine autumn’s been permanently postponed.

Fresh berries

Blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, whatever—they’re all great additions to a Bramble, a shaken combination of bourbon, lemon juice, simple syrup, and berries. Muddle the berries and double-strain for a more elegant cocktail, or leave them in for something with a little more fiber.


If you’re one of the lucky ones who lives somewhere citrus grow outside, you’ve got it made. Inside, mix a dab of honey syrup into a glass of bourbon. Add a little ice, take it outside, squeeze a grapefruit on top, and while your Brown Derby cocktail won’t come close to passing muster at Death & Co., I promise it will go delightfully with dirty feet, lounge chairs, and the sound of the neighbor kids running through the sprinkler.