24 June 2021

3 botanical cocktails you can make at home

Liven up your summer with these Kew-inspired recipes.

By Yosola Olorunshola

An array of ice, juniper berries and citrus fruit

There’s a plant story hidden behind most types of alcohol. 

From spirits to wines, tonics to bitters, plants are the source of the deep aromas and refreshing flavours that make our favourite cocktails hit.  

So why not take inspiration from nature this summer and make your own botanical cocktails? We’ve rounded up three simple recipes of plant-based magic to enjoy at home.  

1. Gin St Clement's

Remember the nursery rhyme 'Oranges and lemons'? If so, you’re already halfway through the recipe of this classic cocktail.  

The sparkling, quinine-based Bitter Lemon mixer was created by Schweppes in 1957 and has remained on pub shelves ever since — used for the refreshing St Clement’s cocktail.  

A bunch of lemons resting on a table
© Cristina Anne Costello / Unsplash
A group of freshly cut oranges
© Sheraz Shaikh / Unsplash

Orange juice is combined with lemon juice, or bitter lemon, and the recipe is named after the bells of St Clement’s — the first London church bell featured in the traditional rhyme.  

In this recipe we have added a gin twist, but feel free to leave out and enjoy a refreshing ‘mocktail’. 


  • 50 ml (1.7 fl oz) gin 

  • 150 ml (5 fl oz) bottle of bitter lemon 

  • Juice of a freshly squeezed orange (approx. 150 ml / 5 fl oz) 

  • Cubed ice 


  • Place the ice in a tumbler. Pour over the gin followed by the bitter lemon. 

  • Finish with freshly squeezed orange juice to taste.  

Serve and enjoy 

Mocktail option: make without the gin for an alcohol-free version. 

Source: Just the Tonic, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (2019)

Did you know? Quinine is a compound found in the bark of the cinchona tree, commonly known as the fever tree. 

It's the special ingredient that provides the distinctive bitter taste in tonic water and similar mixers like bitter lemon.

The fever tree, native to the Andes, derived its reputation from its ability to cure fevers and was used as an early treatment for malaria.   

Visit the Temperate House to see Kew’s very own cinchona tree for yourself.  

2. The Walled Garden 

For anyone lucky enough to have roses in their garden, this simple cocktail is ideal to drink while sitting and enjoying the sunset amidst the smell of roses. 

Roses in the Rose Garden
Roses in the Rose Garden (Ellen McHale © RBG Kew)
Rose 'Crown Princess Margareta'
Rose 'Crown Princess Margareta' (Ellen McHale © RBG Kew)

It was inspired by the rose collection found in the Walled Garden at Wakehurst. Floral with a strong kick, this recipe is ready in only two steps — perfect for a relaxed summer evening. 


Serves 1 

  • 50ml (2 fl oz) Grey Goose vodka or any other premium vodka, chilled 
  • 25ml (1 fl oz) rose water 
  • rose water crackers, to serve 


  • Pour the ingredients into a chilled martini glass and stir well.
  • Garnish with one or two rose water crackers, and serve. 

Source: Kew's Teas, Tonics and Tipples, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (2015) 

3. Red Cherry Carnival 

The deep red colour of fresh cherry purée paired with celebratory bubbles and served in tall frosty glasses feels both exotic and celebratory.

Making this cocktail at the height of the cherry season (mid-June to mid-September), when the fruits are at their darkest and sweetest, will add an almost peppery hint to the mix. 

Cherries growing on a tree
© Macu Ic / Unsplash
A person reaching for a cocktail flute
© Sigmund, Boulevard Charest Est / Unsplash


Serves 6 

  • 100g (4oz) dark red cherries, pitted 
  • 40ml (1½ fl oz) cherry brandy 
  • a couple of dashes of bitters 
  • sugar syrup, to taste
  • 1 x 75cl bottle brut cava, well chilled 

To serve: 

  • 6 pairs of red cherries, on the stem 
  • 6 mint sprigs 


  • Roughly chop the cherries and place them in a small bowl. Add the cherry brandy and bitters and process to a smooth purée, using a hand blender. 
  • Taste the purée and add a little sugar syrup, if necessary. This will depend on personal taste and the natural sweetness of the cherries. 
  • Divide the cherry purée between six tall flutes and top up with chilled cava. 
  • Hang a pair of cherries over the side of each glass and float a little sprig of mint on top of each serving. 
  • Place the flutes in the freezer for 10 minutes before serving the cocktail, to give them a pretty, frosted appearance. 

Source: Kew's Teas, Tonics and Tipples, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (2015) 

Summer nights

Join us this summer to enjoy a cocktail or two surrounded by the wonderful sights, smells and sounds of our gardens.

Enjoy more DIY recipes

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