Herby, floral mixes for spring: 15 sweet, sour and refreshing cocktails to make at home

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Amy Swales
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The sun shines and we want fresh, herby, floral cocktails. Well, to be frank we want them whether it's shining or not, and that's why going DIY has so much to recommend it.

Forget the catch-all bowl of punch: we've consulted the experts from bars, restaurants and drinks brands and selected 15 master mixes to make at home.

While some are easy to build (and even easier to sip), others require a little forward planning or a refresh of your drinks' cupboard, but don't be intimidated or afraid to experiment; many ingredients are easy to swap out and we've included some shopping links to make it even simpler.

Remember: elements like sugar syrup are easy to make yourself, but if you buy it in nobody will judge you. They'll be too busy sipping your delicious, impressive cocktails and wondering when the hell you got so good at hosting.

  • Ikebana

    To celebrate the arrival of blossom, central European restaurant German Gymnasium in London has a selection of new cocktails, including the gin-based Ikebana with matcha tea.

    60ml clear apple juice
    35ml Tanqueray 10
    20ml elderflower cordial
    1 tsp of matcha tea powder
    Juice of half a lemon

    Method: Add the matcha tea to a bowl and then, using a kitchen whisk, whisk continuously as the other ingredients are added. Pour into a rocks glass over ice and garnish with a beautiful flower.

  • The Belspritz

    This is a simple mix based on the zesty, herby and citrusy notes of Belsazar's pink vermouth: a floral spring twist on the classic G&T. 

    30ml Belsazar Rosé
    20ml gin
    Tonic water
    Lemon zest to garnish

    Method: Pour the vermouth and gin into a highball glass, fill with ice cubes and top up with the tonic water to taste. Serve with lemon zest.

  • Carrot Top

    Head barman of modern Asian restaurant Bó Drake in London, Darren Farmer, has created Carrot Top for the spring season, a tequila-carrot mix we can definitely claim as healthy. Tiny marshmallow kebab optional.

    40ml tequila
    20ml lime juice
    20ml egg white
    Pressed carrot juice
    Celery bitters

    Method: Shake all ingredients together with ice in a Boston shaker (ensuring you shake enough to create a nice foam). Double-strain into a tall glass.

  • Yugen

    This sparkling aperitivo is served in Jason Atherton’s Japanese izakaya-style restaurant Sosharu. If you can get your hands on fennel flowers, do: the slightly sharp, anise-like scent provides a beautiful sensory contrast with the rich, fruity notes of the drink itself.

    20ml Belsazar Rosé pink vermouth
    20ml Sakura Hirahira sake
    Fennel flowers

    Method: Build the vermouth and sake in a Champagne coupe, top with Prosecco and finish with the fennel flower. Slightly bruise the flower before placing it in the glass to release the scent.

  • Haggerstoned

    Haggerstoned is a green and fragrant silver tequila serve from London grill house Berber & Q, combining sweet, sour and bitter in one punchy glass.

    50ml Cabrito Tequila Blanco
    25ml pistachio syrup
    20ml lime juice
    10ml green chartreuse
    3 dashes orange bitters
    Orange peel twist to garnish

    Method: Put all the ingredients bar the orange peel into a shaker and shake well. Pour into a rocks glass over ice and garnish with the orange twist.

    Image: Tom Bowles

  • Pine Needle Highball

    This summery concoction created by ‘Appletiser Alchemist’ Richard Woods combines sweet and refreshing flavours, and can’t fail to remind you of the great outdoors. Even if the weather won’t play ball.

    50ml dry vermouth
    50-75ml Appletiser
    10ml sugar syrup
    2 dashes lemon bitters
    Pine needle stalk

    Method: Add the vermouth, lemon bitters and sugar syrup to a highball glass filled with ice. Pour in half of the Appletiser and stir before topping up with the remaining to taste. Garnish with the pine needle.

  • Dill or No Dill

    This is a mix from award-winning cocktail bar The Blind Pig (above Social Eating House). The touch of smoky flavour from the salt adds depth to the lighter, fresher tastes coming from the other ingredients.

    50ml Tanqueray gin
    25ml lemon juice
    20ml cucumber water
    15ml elderflower syrup
    Pinch smoked salt
    Sprig of fresh dill

    Method: Shake all the ingredients together in a chilled shaker and fine strain into a chilled coupette glass. Garnish with a small sprig of fresh dill on the rim.

  • Pisco Sour

    This is Peruvian restaurant Ceviche’s take on the classic Pisco Sour, and the team positively encourage home experimentation to discover the levels of sugar and sour you prefer.

    50ml acholado (blended) pisco 
    30ml lime juice
    20ml sugar syrup
    3 drops angustura or chuncho bitters
    1 egg white

    Method: There are two: either put all ingredients except bitters into a blender with three ice cubes and blend until smooth, or into a shaker with ice and shake vigorously for at least 30 seconds. Hold the froth back while pouring into a chilled rocks glass (you'll still get a good foam). To serve, add three drops of bitters on top.

    Note: for more than one drink, one egg white makes enough froth for four if blended or two if shaken.

  • Herby Victorian Mojito

    This herbaceous take on a Victorian Mojito comes from London distillery Sipsmith, adding notes of flora to the classic mint concoction.

    40ml Sipsmith London Dry Gin
    20ml elderflower cordial
    15ml sugar syrup
    6-8 mint leaves (to taste)
    Mint leaves and thyme to garnish

    Method: Add all ingredients to a Collins glass and muddle. Then top with crushed ice, churn together and serve with a sprig of mint and thyme.

  • Nikkei Martinez

    Geoff Robinson, bar manager at Sosharu’s basement cocktail bar 7 Tales, created the Nikkei Martinez around the pungent, aromatic notes of mosto verde pisco, while aged sake adds a sherry-like hint. You may not have all these ingredients to hand, but should you invest you’ll be making this short and powerful sip all year round.

    40ml aged sake
    10ml mosto verde pisco
    10ml Cocchi Americano
    10ml vodka
    Dash of Hawaiian Black Salt solution

    Method: Stir all the ingredients together, then strain into a rocks glass over ice.  Garnish with flowers.

  • Berry Me Home

    This heady mix is from Korean restaurant Jinjuu, using Korean spirit soju and fruit. The honey and ginseng syrup is easily made by steeping two ginseng teabags in one cup for 10 minutes, removing, then stirring in half a cup of honey until dissolved.

    35ml Hwayo 41% Soju
    25ml honey and ginseng syrup
    20ml maraschino liqueur
    20ml grapefruit juice
    10ml lemon juice
    5 raspberries
    4 blueberries
    Maraschino cherry to garnish

    Method: Muddle the blueberries and four raspberries in a shaker, then add all other ingredients, plus ice, and shake hard for 20 seconds. Strain through a fine sieve into a coupe or Martini glass and garnish with the remaining raspberry and a maraschino cherry.

  • Apricot-Bas

    This one comes from the spring menu at Forest restaurant on Selfridges’ roof and requires a bit of forward planning. The Armagnac can be swapped for Cognac and is easily infused at home (drop in dried apricots and leave for two days), while lavender syrup is either bought sugar syrup cooked with dried flowers, or pop a pan of two parts caster sugar, one part water and a handful of flowers on the hob until the sugar dissolves. Good things come to those who wait.

    40ml apricot-infused Armagnac
    20ml clementine juice
    15ml lavender syrup
    2 dashes Angostura bitters

    Method: Shake all ingredients in a shaker with ice vigorously. Double strain into a chilled coupe glass without ice.

  • 108 Garden

    This from 108 Bar, part of 108 Brasserie in London, also uses gin as a base (in this case, a London dry), but replaces the bitterness of tonic with an apple, elderflower and cherry mix.

    80ml apple juice
    50ml Beefeater Gin
    15ml elderflower cordial
    5ml cherry liqueur
    Cucumber and mint leaves to garnish

    Method: Shake all the ingredients together in a shaker. Strain and pour into a sling glass over ice and garnish with mint leaves and sliced cucumber.

  • Chambord Chapter Eight

    The black raspberry liqueur and the jam bring sweetness to the table (or bar), but the lemon and grapefruit balance with sharpness. Tweak sage to taste.

    30ml Chambord
    30ml gin
    30ml grapefruit juice
    10ml fresh lemon juice
    2 sage leaves
    Dash of soda water
    Good quality raspberry jam

    Method: Add all except the jam to a cocktail shaker with ice and shake hard. Paint the inside of a chilled coupette or Martini glass with the jam, strain the mix into it and top with soda water.

  • Lotus Collins

    The Lotus Collins is from Vietnamese restaurant House of Ho in London, and yes, requires a little prep to do it properly (leave cut-up lotus root to soak in gin for a couple of days), but the result is surely worth it. Sherbet here refers to lemon juice, sugar and lemon zest mixed together to taste.

    40ml lotus root-infused gin
    20ml lemon sherbet
    15ml creme de violette
    Soda water
    Lemon to garnish

    Method: Put ice in a shaker with the gin, lemon sherbet and creme de violette and shake until chilled. Strain into a highball glass over ice, top up with soda water and garnish with a lemon wheel.


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Amy Swales

Amy Swales is a freelance writer who likes to eat, drink and talk about her dog. She will continue to plunder her own life and the lives of her loved ones for material in the name of comedy, catharsis and getting pictures of her dog on the internet.