Check Out The Miami Bars Planting Gardens To Make You A Better Cocktail

Apr 11, 2013

The vertical garden wall at Blackbird Ordinary was installed and planted by Urban GreenWorks.
Credit Blackbird Ordinary

Who's growing cocktails in their gardens? In a manner of speaking, Blackbird Ordinary and Broken Shaker are. The two Miami-Dade bars are growing plants they use to make simple syrups, infusions and garnishes. You can also grow your own "cocktail garden." Amy Stewart, author of The Drunken Botanist, visits Books & Books this Friday, and she'll be giving gardening tips.

The Oaxacan Palate punch, served by Broken Shaker during South Beach Wine & Food Festival, was made with mezcal, smoked ancho chilis, blood oranges and herbs.
Credit Trina Sargalski

Blackbird Ordinary, a Brickell bar, had a vertical garden installed about four months ago.  The edible wall can grow mint, cilantro, basil, strawberries and miracle fruit among other things. Lemongrass, citrus trees and sorrel (hibiscus) will grow in planters seasonally. "This unique design allows herbs to be changed in and out seasonally," says marketing director Jessie Gilmartin, "so fresh-grown ingredients for the bar are always available."

The planters at Broken Shaker aren't just for decoration.
Credit David Samayoa

At Broken Shaker in Miami Beach, bartenders use herbs like lavender, basil, sage, chocolate mint and edible flowers for infusions, bitters, simple syrups and garnishes. For example, the Lavender Bees Knees is made with gin, Florida citrus and lavender simple syrup.

Of course, you can grow herbs and other plants for cocktails at home too. Author Amy Stewart's newest book, The Drunken Botanist, is about all of the fruits, herbs, fungi and other plants that have been used to make alcohol throughout the ages. Stewart also has an interest in the horticulture of plants used in cocktails.

Stewart has partnered with a seed company to sell cocktail garden kits, including a Havana Rum Garden kit, which includes seeds for making your own creative rum libation like a lemongrass mojito.  Of course, you can just purchase and plant your own seeds without a kit. South Florida is in a completely different gardening zone than most of the country, but Stewart's seeds and gardening tips can offer inspiration.  

Even if growing your own cocktail garden is beyond your ability or interest, Stewart offers many tips for using herbs and plants to make your own cocktail ingredients at home, like bitters and shrubs (drinking vinegars).

This cocktail tree in a Pembroke Pines yard grows key limes and Meyer lemons.
Credit Denise Diaz

If you're feeling particularly ambitious you can graft your own cocktail tree. Or you can order one online, get it at a local nursery or ask a gardener to graft one for you. It may not be the easiest tree to grow, but apparently such trees can produce limes and lemons and other citrus on the same tree for multiple cocktail ingredients.

Gardens are for cocktails, too.

This is a guest post from WLRN contributor Trina Sargalski's food and drink blog, Miami Dish. She is also the Miami editor for Tasting Table. You can  follow her at @MiamiDish on Twitter.