Gardening in Texas means bundles of fragrant dill, crisp carrots, and ripe berries begging to be plucked from the vine. While it doesn’t get much better than biting into freshly harvested fruits and veggies, it can be fun—exciting, even—to explore new ways to enjoy your garden’s bounty. We asked Texas bartenders for cocktail recipes that feature ingredients that can be grown in raised beds and hanging planters. The results, described in their own words, are a delicious and refreshing nod to the backyard garden.
Gabe Sanchez, Midnight Rambler, Dallas
“There are three different kinds of blackberries that are grown in Texas. One is the Brazos—the big one on the thorny bush that grows pretty much anywhere it wants to. The blackberries are tart and a bit sweet, and the arugula is bitter. They go great together.
My little sister in California is an urban gardener, and she’s trying to show me how to do it. We’re slowly learning how to keep plants alive. We’re digging up our backyard right now and planting tomatoes and cucumbers and lettuce. In Texas, you have so much space and you’re like, ‘Wait a minute! Instead of another bush, I could tear this out and I could plant food.’”
6 to 8 Texas blackberries
1 handful of arugula
1 ½ ounces pisco
¾ ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
¾ ounce simple syrup
small bottle of Topo Chico
Add berries to a cocktail shaker and muddle well. Tear up a handful of arugula and add to the tin. Add pisco, lemon juice, and simple syrup. Add ice and shake hard for 30 to 40 seconds. Add ice to highball or collins glass, then double strain the cocktail over ice. Top with Topo Chico or other seltzer, stir once to incorporate, then garnish with lemon wheel and speared blackberries on a cocktail pick.
Farm to Market
Sharon Yeung, Half Step, Austin
“This drink is essentially a paloma and it’s inspired by summer. I wanted to make something savory, and tomato is my favorite vegetable to eat in the summertime. I love to eat them in a caprese salad. I’ve attempted many, many times to grow things in a garden but I’ve never really succeeded. Hopefully someday.”
For the drink:
2 ounces Espolòn Blanco tequila (or any silver tequila)
1 ounce grapefruit juice
¼ ounce lime juice
1 ounce roasted tomato and strawberry syrup (see below)
salt, for garnish
ginger beer, to taste
grapefruit, for garnish
Add tequila, grapefruit juice, lime juice, and syrup to a shaker with ice. Shake and pour into a tall glass rimmed with salt and filled with ice. Top with ginger beer. Garnish with grapefruit.
For the roasted tomato and strawberry syrup:
3 Roma tomatoes
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon + ½ cup sugar, divided
½ teaspoon rosemary, chopped
pinch of salt and ground pepper
½ cup water
6 frozen strawberries, thawed
- Slice Roma tomatoes in half. Drizzle with olive oil, the teaspoon of sugar, chopped rosemary, a pinch of salt, and ground pepper. Bake at 250 degrees Fahrenheit for 45 minutes.
- In a small pot, heat up water and remaining ½ cup sugar until sugar dissolves. Set aside.
- Once the sugar mixture has cooled, add roasted tomato and pan jus along with frozen strawberries to the pot. Muddle tomato and strawberries until slightly pulverized. Let sit overnight at room temperature. Strain the following day for use in Farm to Market (and, it’ll make a fabulous addition to almost any summer cocktail).
Meyer Lemon Thyme
Justin Ware, Night Shift, Houston
“During the pandemic, my girlfriend, myself, and my business partner—who was basically living with us during quarantine—decided to get into gardening. I built a couple of raised beds and we learned how to plant peppers and things like that. We like spicy food, so we ended up growing jalapeños. We had habaneros growing for a little while. We had a purple bell pepper, which was pretty cool. We had banana peppers and Anaheim peppers. We had a parsley plant, Thai basil, and a cilantro plant that didn’t last very long. Also, my girlfriend has a Meyer lemon tree in the backyard; it’s young and is now in the process of growing a bunch of lemons. And our garden had thyme in it before the freeze. This cocktail just made sense.”
For the drink:
2 ounces dry gin
1 ounce fresh Meyer lemon juice, strained of pulp
½ ounce thyme syrup (see below)
1 ½ to 2 ounces soda water, to top
Add gin, lemon juice, and thyme syrup to a cocktail shaker. Fill the shaker with ice, then shake through a fine mesh strainer into a rocks glass filled with ice. Add soda water to top, or try tonic for a more bitter cocktail. Garnish with a fresh thyme sprig and a Meyer lemon wheel.
For the thyme syrup:
18 grams fresh thyme (or one small packet’s worth)
1 cup white sugar
½ cup water
Combine thyme, sugar, and water in a 2-quart sauce pot. Mix well. Put the pot on high heat, stirring occasionally until mixture comes to a boil. Immediately remove from heat and let sit until room temperature. Strain through a fine mesh strainer or coffee filter. Store in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.