Garden-to-glass: 10 easy steps to set up a bar top garden for spirited cocktails

As 30 Best Bars India is set to award sustainability, excellence, and creativity, along with shaping India’s cocktail culture, here are 10 easy steps to set up a bar top garden that will set the bar higher for your cocktails.

Bar top garden
With your bar top garden, make garden-to-glass a creative and easy reality.
Image: Shutterstock/Gudrun Muenz.

It was in January 2021 that I found myself wondering about the most efficient manner to get fresh herbs for my bar, which happened to be located on an island. Trying to find a solution, I went to our director of culinary operations and asked about his plan for fresh produce. He looked me in the eye and said, “I guess we’ll just have to grow what we can’t buy.”

I nodded, made my way back to my desk, took my phone out, opened my browser, and typed in the following: How to set up a bar top garden fast and easy.

1. A window of opportunity

Bar top garden
Growing herbs and flowers indoors adds a visual value to your bar top.
Image: Shutterstock/Ireine.

As tough as a project like this sounds, it certainly has many merits. Especially if you’re an enthusiast without access to a professional bar and the produce one gets with it.

Growing herbs and flowers indoors allows your drinks to truly be garden-to-glass, while also adding visual value to your bar top for guests and social media alike. It is also a very low-stakes entry path into the world of sustainable bartending and cooking… All that one needs is a window.

It is also significantly fancier to snip mint for your mojitos straight and fresh from the branch rather than using the wilted blackening mint that resides somewhere in your fridge.

But as I learned, before you undertake the long uphill battle of growing your produce, it helps to know the following sure-fire strategies for your bar top garden, even if, like me, your thumbs are not green at all.

2. Choose your plants wisely

Bar top garden
Violets are flowering plants that can be grown indoors and are great for your bar top garden. Image: Shutterstock/Victoria Kurylo

What I would like to grow on my bar counter are oranges and pineapples.

What I can grow however are herbs and flowers.

Most herbs can be grown indoors, but those that tend to thrive inside include no-fuss picks like basil, mint, coriander rosemary, and thyme. Flowering plants that one can target include Borage, Chives, Nasturtiums, and Violets.

Do some research to find out which plants will work best for your space and climate. You can start with either seeds or cuttings/saplings from your local nursery.

3. Find the right containers

Bar top garden
Repurpose mason jars to grow your herbs and edible flowers in.
Image: Shutterstock/Neirfy.

You’ll need pots or containers to grow your herbs and edible flowers in. Make sure they have drainage holes to prevent excess water from sitting in the soil and causing root rot. You can use traditional pots, or get creative and repurpose items like mason jars or old tea cups. Just make sure that the containers are clean and free of any chemicals or toxins.

My preferred options are plastic takeaway containers with holes in the base for drainage and their lids as the protective surface underneath, which makes life sprout from something which would otherwise end up in a landfill.

4. Choose the right soil

Good soil is essential for healthy plant growth. Choose a high-quality, well-draining potting mix specifically designed for herbs and edible flowers. Avoid using soil from your backyard, as it may contain pests or diseases that could harm your plants.

5. Place your plants in a sunny spot

Bar top garden
For your bar top garden to thrive, ensure that your herbs and edible flowers are awash with sunlight. Image: Shutterstock/Christine Bird.

Most herbs and edible flowers need plenty of sunlight to thrive. Find a spot in your home that gets at least six hours of direct sunlight per day. If you don’t have a sunny spot, you can use ‘Grow Lights’ to provide the necessary illumination. Just make sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions on how to use them.

6. Water your plants regularly

Bar top garden
For a healthy bar top garden, ensure that you don’t make the mistake of over-watering your herbs and flowering plants. Image: Shutterstock/ronstik.

Over-watering is one of the most common mistakes people make when growing herbs and edible flowers indoors. Make sure to check the soil moisture regularly and only water your plants when the soil is dry to the touch. Don’t let the pots sit in standing water, as this can cause the roots to rot.

7. Fertilize your plants

Herbs and edible flowers need nutrients to grow strong and healthy. Use a fertilizer specifically designed for herbs and edible flowers, following the manufacturer’s instructions on how much to use. Avoid using too much fertilizer, as this can burn the roots and harm the plants.

8. Pinch off the flowers

If you want to encourage your herbs to grow more leaves, pinch off the flowers as soon as they appear. This will redirect the plant’s energy towards leaf production instead of flower production

9. Harvest your herbs and edible flowers

Bar top garden
Snipping off dead leaves and regular cutbacks are essential and beneficial for the health of your bar top garden plants. Image: Shutterstock/FotoHelin.

Once your plants have grown to a decent size, you can start harvesting the leaves and flowers to use in your cooking. Cut off what you need with a sharp pair of scissors, taking care not to damage the plant.

Bonus: Regular cutbacks encourage new growth. Avoid removing more than a quarter of the plant at a time, which will cause distress and could even kill the plant.

10. Transplant when ready

Indoor herb plants are not forever. The good news/bad news is that if you do it right, your herbs will eventually outgrow their containers and need more space. If you see roots emerging from the drainage holes, stalled growth, or the plant seems to be flopping over, it’s time to transplant to a larger space like a garden/larger pot.

Bar top garden
For a healthy bar top garden, regularly shift your plants to bigger pots as they outgrow the older ones. Image: Shutterstock/M_tasha.

As we find sustainability slowly but surely becoming the next frontier for the beverage industry, organizations like 30 Best Bars India have established a dedicated award to recognise the bars with the best efforts toward achieving sustainability in their operations.

If you spend the time and put in the hours, your hard work will surely be rewarded with fresh garnishes for you cocktails that you grow yourself. In the world of 8-minute grocery delivery, there truly is some romance and magic in that thought.


Kentucky Harvest

Kentucky harvest
Image: Courtesy tulleeho.


  • 60ml bourbon
  • 5 Coriander sprigs
  • 4 Lemon wheels
  • 5gms brown sugar
  • 20ml lime juice
  • Lemonade to top up
  • Glass: Highball
  • Garnish: Coriander leaves and edible flowers


In a highball glass, muddle the lemon wheels, coriander sprigs, bourbon and sugar, and lime juice, and mix. Fill the glass with ice cubes, stir, and top up the glass with lemonade.

Watermelon Basil Thunder

Watermelon basil thunder
Image: Courtesy tulleeho.


  • 60ml gin
  • 20gms watermelon chunks
  • 1gm basil leaves
  • 15ml simple syrup
  • 20ml lime juice
  • Glass: Coupe
  • Garnish: Edible flowers


In a shaker tin, muddle all the ingredients and shake over ice vigorously for 30 seconds. Fine strain into a coupe glass and garnish with edible flowers.

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