Thyme usually gets used for seasoning meat and is overlooked as a cocktail herb in favour of its more brash cousins like mint, vanilla and even lavender. But to overlook thyme is to miss out on a wealth of possibility. I find it especially useful in the summer months as it seems to refresh and revitalize. Even just a few sprigs infused in a bottle of wine can perk up the blandest of grapes.
Although thyme grows naturally and abundantly around the Med it grows across Europe too and is less frequently available as a wild herb in more Northern climes such as the UK and I have found it growing readily in Scotland. It favours chalk hills, heath land and can sometimes be found in sand dunes. To guarantee a steady supply buy a plant from the garden centre and plant it out in early spring in dry and gritty soil and protect from the harshest of winter temperatures with a good quantity of straw mulch. On a personal note I’d also say to not let it dry out, I’ve lost a few plants from my sporadic watering technique!
You don’t even need alcohol to sample its delights, this very simple soft drink will have you feeling refreshed, especially in the summer months.
- 1 sprig thyme
- 30ml/1 fl oz honey syrup
- Bitter lemon (see below)
To make the honey syrup mix equal parts boiling water and honey and stir. Muddle thyme in a glass, pour over the syrup and stir frantically. Strain into an ice filled tumbler and top with bitter lemon.
To make it a non-mocktial you could add 30ml tequila and call it, “forever tequila thyme”.
It’s Lavender Thyme
One of the greatest things about creating thyme drinks is that you can come up with a ridiculous amount of puns to use as names for each one.
- 200ml/7 fl oz water
- 200g/7 oz sugar
- ¼ cup dried lavender flowers (or ½ cup of fresh)
- 1 bunch thyme
- 1 litre/2 pints sparkling bitter lemon soda
- 250ml/8 fl oz dry gin
- 125ml/4 fl oz lemon juice
- Thin lemon wheels for garnish
Bring the water to the boil and stir in the sugar until fully dissolved. Drop in the thyme and lavender and allow to cool. Pour into a big ice filled jug and add the gin. Stir vigorously for a minute then top up with bitter lemon soda to taste. To serve wipe each glass with some lemon peel and then garnish with a wheel.