There are a wealth of recipes out there for making alcohol based drinks with herbal twists, however on hot days alcohol will just make you hotter and more dehydrated, so a nice cold alcoholic drink, whilst seeming like a good option at the time, is just going to make you thirstier! Add to that the fact that not all adults like to drink alcohol, either through choice or because they are the designated driver, on medication, or for a variety of other reasons, so make sure you provide something special for them to drink.
If you whip up some herb syrups you can make your own alcohol free mojito’s, juleps and spritzers so nobody feels left out, some people refer to these kind of drinks as mocktail’s, but there is nothing mock or fake about these alternative drinks, they are refreshing, tasty and very easy to make. They can be made with any combination of fruit juices and flavourings, my favourite way to do this is to make up a series of syrups before a party and make up jugs of alcohol free drinks for anyone to enjoy.
Basic Herb Syrup Recipe
You can make a basic syrup from one herb or try mixing a few together, these syrups can be turned in to alcohol free drinks very easily with the addition of some sparkling mineral water, tonic water or lemonade, for bonus points, they can also be used to sweeten iced herbal teas adding another layer of flavour to your iced tea.
1 Litre Spring Water
45g Dried Herb of choice e.g. Basil, Elderflower, Lavender, Lemongrass, Lemon Thyme, Lemon Verbena, Peppermint or Spearmint.
450g Castor Sugar
Method: Place your water in a non-stick pan and add your chosen herb(s) bring the contents of the pan to the boil and allow to simmer for 20-30 minutes, strain the herb infused water into a clean glass jug to remove the solids from the liquid, then clean out the pan. Once clean, pour the herb infused water back in to the pan and simmer on a very gentle heat until your litre of liquid has reduced down to 200ml. At this point stir in the sugar and continue to simmer the contents stirring as until all the sugar has dissolved. Once dissolved pour your herb syrup in to bottles, label and store in the fridge.
N.B. Reducing liquids on a very low light can take time, it takes around 45 minutes to 1 hour for 28ml of liquid to evaporate. Using a large pan increases the surface area of your liquid which will allow it to reduce in a quicker time than a small pan. Larger pans mean that there are more surface molecules per unit of volume that are able to evaporate from the liquid.
For something a little different try making a Seed Syrup, my favourite is Coriander Seed Syrup, but I’ve made Fennel Seed Syrup as well and used them to flavour drinks. I’m particularly fond of the Coriander Seed Syrup mixed with apple juice and topped up with ginger ale to make a delicious grown up drink that tastes so good, who needs alcohol! Coriander syrup is also a perfect partner to fruit based drinks that contain lemon, mango, orange, peach and pear.
To make a seed syrup follow the above method for herb syrups but use 30g of lightly crushed seed.
If a syrup based drink is too sweet due to the syrup, add a good dash of sourness with freshly grapefruit, lemon or lime juice depending on the flavours in your cocktail and top off with tonic water. This will help to take away some of the sweetness by adding bitter and sour flavours.
Debs Cook is the IT Media Manager for the DHM, she is a self confessed herbaholic who loves to write about the way herbs were once used and about the herbalists that used them. You can find out more about Debs over on her Herbal haven blog.
Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to source the most up to date and accurate information, we cannot guarantee that remedies in our articles are effective, when in doubt, consult your GP or a qualified Medicinal Herbalist. Remember also that herbal remedies can be dangerous under certain circumstances therefore you should always seek medical advice before self-treating with a homemade remedy, especially if you are pregnant, breast feeding or suffer from any known illness which could be adversely affected by self-treatment.