Saturday, July 2

The Perfect Serve: How To Grow Your Own Gin Garden

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How wonderful to sit out on a summer’s evening, lean over and pluck the garnish for your sundowner from your own edible gin garden.  Beauty enhances every human experience. When it comes to cocktails, garnishes add real visual appeal. They can also complement or add another dimension with their aromatics and subtle flavours.

As the final touch, a garnish also accentuates the enjoyment of a moment, whether it be a celebration, a nod to the end of a hard day, or an acknowledgement of the most perfect peaceful present.

gin garden

Also read: Hendrick’s Unveils Limited-Edition Lunar Gin

But which garnishes are the ideal match for your favourite gin? Check out this list of some of our favourite fresh garnishes to grow in your garden. Luckily, these suggestions will pair beautifully with any gin of your choice, so be adventurous and try your own combinations!

Oxalis pes-caprae or wood sorrel / wild clover

You’ll probably have spotted these growing as weeds in your lawn. They have pretty little yellow flowers and clover-shaped leaves. They are wonderful in drinks and salads (and a staple ingredient of waterblommetjie bredie). Both flowers and leaves are lovely as a garnish — slightly bitter and lemony. This will pair brilliantly with most gins available in South Africa.

Borage or starflower.

Also called the bee flower because the pretty blue star-shaped flowers attract masses of bees. The flowers or the green-grey leaves have a mild cucumber taste that’s a natural match with Flowstone Wild Cucumber Gin.

Flowstone gin

Also read: Buyer’s Guide: How to Restock Your Gin Cabinet

Pineapple sage

This is an absolute favourite for many gin lovers. The leaves have a wonderful pineapple-sage nose and the bright red, tubular flowers have a pineapple scent. To release the scented oils, smack the leaves between your palms before adding to Flowstone’s Bushwillow Gin with a thin slice of pineapple.

Pelargoniums

These indigenous plants are similar to and often confused with geraniums. The bright or pale pink flowers make any drink look gorgeous. Look out for the wonderful, orange and red highlights that develop on some of the leaves — beautiful as a garnish. Depending on the species, the scented leaves have notes of nutmeg, peppermint or citrus but don’t crush them before adding as pelargoniums are strongly scented.

Other florals

These look lovely and usually impart a little edge as you sip your drink but don’t affect the flavour much. Pluck a few fresh petals to turn your drink into a bouquet or add to more flavourful garnishes. Experiment with roses, pansies and violas (don’t crush, just float them), violets, nasturtiums (boasts a slightly peppery taste), cornflowers, miniature carnations, primroses, impatiens, Queen Anne’s lace, and even marigolds.

Herbs

There’s such a rich pantry of kitchen herbs. Grow them in pots or amongst your flowers to have fresh garnish on hand all the time. Look out for their shy flowers and add a flowering stalk to your drink. Our favourites are dill (both the leaves and flowers are lovely in a cucumber gin like Hendrick’s), rosemary, lavender, thyme, basil and mint.

Trees

A citrus tree is always a wonderful addition to a garden. Plant a lemon, orange or kumquat and use a few new young leaves as a garnish. First, smack them between your palms to release the wonderful citrus smells. And a blossom or two in springtime in a Marula Gin is pure ambrosia. A few fresh curry leaves and chilli will really spice things up!

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