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Spring tends to come in fits and starts here in New England, but the best way to show mother nature we are ready for her is to get into the spirit with what’s in your cocktail glass. I am pleased to introduce one of the simplest ways to spring-ify your cocktail and make yourself look like a mixological genius with very little effort: add fresh herbs.

Sharing the myth and lore of classic cocktails is my passion, but one thing you’ve probably noticed is that, while the stories, histories, and circumstances for these drinks may change, the basic formulae are often the same. Take the basic build for a sour cocktail: 2 ounces of spirit, 3/4 ounce of citrus and 3/4 ounce of sweetener. If you swap around the ingredients a bit, any number of chart-topping classics can be suddenly on the menu: a Gimlet (gin, lime juice, simple syrup); a Daiquiri (rum, lime juice, simple syrup); a Whiskey Sour (whiskey, lemon juice, simple syrup); will get your spring cocktail party started quickly.

If you’re feeling spring-like, or spring-adjacent, get yourself an herb garden (they sometimes even have them at the grocery store) and get to riffing. An herb-based simple syrup is very easy to make (template below) but if you can’t even be bothered to do that, simply building one of your favorite classics and using a fresh herb garnish will do.

Here’s how it works: mix up your favorite classic cocktail, select the fresh herb sprig of choice, give that spring a gentle smack between your palms to rupture cells in the plant and release its essential oils, and garnish your glass. We drink with our eyes first, and the fresh herb sprig will be a visual delight. More importantly, as wine aficionados know, your olfactory bulb is responsible for 8O% of our experience of taste. So while you may have done nothing at all to the main ingredients in your gin gimlet, your herb garnish will offer a new flavor experience. Hello Rosemary (or basil, thyme, mint, etc.) Gimlet!

Fully vaccinated and imbibing with guests? Invite them to peruse your carefully cultivated herb garden (they don’t need to know it’s from Shaw’s) for a “choose your own adventure” gimlet/whiskey sour/margarita adventure. Whether or not you share your trade secrets is entirely up to you.

2 OUNCES of gin of choice
3/4 OUNCE of fresh lime juice
3/4 OUNCE of simple syrup or rosemary simple syrup
SHAKE ingredients with ice. STRAIN into a chilled cocktail glass. GARNISH with fresh rosemary sprig.

1/2 CUP of water
1/2 CUP of sugar
2-6 SPRIGS fresh herbs of your choice
COMBINE all ingredients in a small saucepan over low heat, STIRRING until sugar dissolves. REMOVE from heat and let stand for 3O minutes. REMOVE herbs, bottle, and STORE in the refrigerator for up to one month.