Thyme to Toast: Herbal Cocktails to Soothe Your Spirits

Taking a page from chefs, bartenders are using herbs to add depth to their creations. From ingredients ranging from basil to tarragon and beyond, these herbal cocktails are truly garden to glass.

Boleo, Chicago, Illinois
Jess Lambert’s blend of fruits, herbs, and spices may sound ready-made for the cold months, but the head bartender whips up culinary-forward cocktails with housemade ingredients year-round. Her rosemary grape Pisco tonic is a cool fizzy refresher, with Boleo’s from-scratch tonic syrup, rosemary, Pisco, red grapes, and edible flowers. Make a reservation at Boleo.

herbal cocktails

Bar SixtyFive at Rainbow Room, New York, New York
Who said a bartender never gave you anything? At Bar SixtyFive, keep Corey Creason doles out some sage advice for the holidays with a gin and simple-syrup infused tipple that blends citrus and seasonally inspired Fernet Menta peppermint. It’s presented with a “wreath” atop a coupe glass and a thyme leaf. Make a reservation at Bar SixtyFive at Rainbow Room.

herbal cocktails

Dirty Habit, San Francisco, California
One of the Golden City’s only outdoor heated patios spices it up with several herbal cocktails, including some out-of-the-box options from bar manager Raul Ayala. Date in India pairs spiced tamarind syrup with tequila and lime juice, and perfect for sharing with friends is the Summer is Over punch bowl with ginger syrup, arugula, dry vermouth, and gin. Make a reservation at Dirty Habit.

herbal cocktails

JIMMY at The James, New York, New York
A star is born at JIMMY at The James, where co-owner and mixologist Johnny Swet creates the signature cocktail menu — including several herbals like the Crystal Ship. Combining gin, star anise, and Salers, a French aperitif made from the gentian root herb and white wine, it’s a clean sipper that makes a big bang. Or try Swet’s Legal in Vermont, with cinnamon, maple syrup, bourbon, and regal purple basil. Make a reservation at JIMMY at The James.

herbal cocktails

Sac-a-Lait, New Orleans, Louisiana
Beverage director Norton Christopher’s vine-to-glass creations bring a bit of the outdoors in with herbs from Sac-A-Lait’s on-site garden. Thyme Is on My Side blends thyme-infused gin with rye, thyme syrup, lemon, egg white, kümmel spritz, and a charred lemon-thyme candy wheel. Other winners include Cypress Sunset, with serrano bourbon, pepper, coriander, lime juice, Ojen, and tarragon, and the Horse’s Ass includes bourbon, ginger beer, and a secret blend of freshly picked herbs. Make a reservation at Sac-a-Lait.

herbal cocktails

Macchialina Taverna Rustica, Miami Beach, Florida
Chef-owner Michael Pirolo’s Speck-tacular Now pairs sweet and savory, with herby clove syrup, ginger-and-black-pepper-spiced Jamaican #1 bitters, honey, and speck-infused whiskey. Ham-lovers can rejoice pairing it with hearty Italian cuisine, like salumi and meat and cheese boards, short-rib lasagna, and the dry-aged strip. Make a reservation at Macchialina Taverna Rustica.

herbal cocktails

Moxie’s Grill & Bar, Dallas, Texas
Who says drinking’s not good for your health? Moxie’s avocado gimlet makes a big green splash with the fibrous fruit, rosemary and olive-infused gin, German apple liqueur, and fresh pressed lime. Make a reservation at Moxie’s Grill & Bar.

herbal cocktails

Sonsie, Boston, Massachusetts
As Boston’s Back Bay brunch go-to for more than two decades, it’s no surprise that Sonsie’s cocktail menu keeps it on lock. This season, the Heli Yeah blends locally produced herbal tea with lemon, cranberries, and vodka yielding a spirit that’s merry and bright, despite the January gloom. Make a reservation at Sonsie.

herbal cocktails

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Carley Thornell is a travel writer whose experiences eating street food in Japan, English peas in the UK, free-range steak in Argentina, and Brussels sprouts at Estragon tapas in her hometown of Boston have provided unforgettable culinary inspiration. Shout out at carleythornell@gmail.com.