Garden Tonic Punch

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This Garden Tonic Punch is worthy of any summer cocktail party. It’s made up of the herb and vegetable bounty found in my own backyard. A cold-pressed tomato simple syrup combined with an easy herb syrup creates a refreshing summer gin cocktail ideal for big batches.


Guess what!? Today I am celebrating these two things with this Garden Tonic Punch: 1. #drinkthesummer which is a fun little virtual cocktail party where all my favorite bloggers get together and mix up something fierce (see the full list of cocktails below) and 2. Vegetarian ‘Ventures FIVE year anniversary! Can you believe this space is FIVE years old (okay, it *technically* happened last week but who is keeping track)? Like imagine this space was a kid – she’d be HUGE by now… wanting to play dress up to look like mom and picking out her own ice cream flavors. But really, back to this space being a blog, this little space has grown up to host thousands of pictures, 534 posts, thousands of comments, millions of views (!!!), writing in the form of dreams and desires,  fears and worries, and a whole heck of a lot of recipes. Pretty cool, right?

It’s so easy to get caught up in the day to day of worrying about not creating enough content, not getting those stats I had hoped for, not getting enough instagram followers, and so on that I forget to step back and look at it all as a whole. I forget to step back and see what a beautiful oasis this place as turned into – a place for me to be creative, to air out my thoughts, to connect with like-minded eaters, to be given opportunities I never thought would be possible (being published in my favorite publications! Getting a cookbook deal! Connecting with some of my food idols!), and to, most importantly, grow. Grow from being a college student to a clue-less adult to a baker to a cook to a blogger to a writer to a photographer and finally to an author. VV, I’m amazed at how far we’ve come in five years and I’m even more excited to see where we’ll be in five more.

Some bloggers are into updating old content with new photos but where is the fun in that? To celebrate embracing this growth, let’s look back at what we were creating during this month over the past five years (and the stellar photos I took back in those days):

First post: August 17th, 2011: Vegan Chocolate Strawberry Cupcakes

VV Turns 1: Butterscotch Roll-Up Cake (oh yeah – when it was totally cool to put a sprinkle mask over a photo..)

VV Turns 2: Spicy Double Chocolate Chip Cookies with Cappuccino Frosting

VV Turns 3: Creamy Peanut Butter Pup Pops

VV Turns 4: Sparkling Peppered Plum Blush


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Okay, now that we’ve reminisced, let’s talk about this Garden Tonic Punch! Is it totally appropriate to throw your entire garden into a cocktail and call it a punch? Well if it’s not then too bad because I just made it happen. There are two simple syrups that come together to create a slightly sweet fizzy punch with hints of both herbs and tomatoes. Instead of heating the tomato simple syrup over the stove like a traditional simple syrup is made, the tomatoes are soaked in sugar, to bring out their juices (similar to what you do to strawberries for strawberry shortcake), muddled, and then strained into the punch to create a gorgeous pink hue and subtle acidic bite that will leave your guests coming back for more. I used the herbs I had on hand for the herb simple syrup but feel free to use whatever you had around: thyme, basil, rosemary, tarragon, mint, sage, etc. I also prefer my drinks to be more citrus than sweet but keep some honey handy to sweeten the punch at the end in case you like it sweeter.

Is this Garden Tonic Punch not your thing? No problem, here are a ton more #drinkthesummer recipes from bloggers all over the web to try:

With Food + Love | Basil Fig Vodka Smash
A Little Saffron | Beach Bum’s Rum
A Thought For Food | Tarragon Tequlia Swizzle
Heart of a Baker | Green Tea Mint Cooler
Hungry Girl por Vida | Whisky Peach Alexander
Beard and Bonnet | Melon Mojito
Appeasing a Food Geek | Basil and Black Pepper Gin Sour
The Foodie Nurse | Husk Cherry Margarita
Wicked Spatula | Coconut Gin and Tonic
Nutritionist in the Kitch | Healthy Muddled Blackberry Pina Coladas
Chocolate + Marrow | Pequito Verdecito
The Solstice Table | Jalapeno Watermelon Cooler
Seasonal Cravings | Strawberry Lime Gin Rickey
Dessert for Two | Salty Melon Slush


Heartbeet Kitchen | Salty Watermelon Shrub Elixir
My Heart Beets | Spiced Pistachio Shake
rooting the sun | Strawberry Fennel Soda
The Modern Proper | Vanilla Bean Plum Shrub
Gourmande in the Kitchen | Stone Fruit Thyme Shrub Soda
I am a Food Blog | Cherry Vanilla Sodas
Well and Full | Peach Bubble Tea

Anyhow, did somebody say cocktail hour? Let’s get sippin’!

Garden Tonic Punch recipe below:

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Garden Tonic Punch
This Garden Tonic Punch is cocktail-worthy and made up of the herb and vegetable bounty found in my own backyard. A cold-pressed tomato simple syrup combined with an easy herb syrup to create a refreshing summer gin cocktail perfect for big batches.
Course: Drink
Cuisine: Vegetarian
Servings: 12
Calories: 165 kcal
Author: Shelly Westerhausen
  • For tomato simple syrup:
  • 2 pints tomatoes (any variety), halved + more for garnish
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • For the herb simple syrup:
  • 1/2 cup fresh herbs (rosemary, thyme, basil, mint, etc) + more for garnish
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • For the rest:
  • 1 lemon , sliced
  • 1 lime , sliced
  • 4 liters soda water
  • 12 oz gin or vodka
  • Ice
  1. For the tomato simple syrup: Transfer tomatoes to a mixing bowl and toss in 1 cup sugar. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and let sit for one hour. After sitting, use a muddler or food processor to mash or blend until most of the mixture is liquid. Set aside.
  2. For the herb simple syrup: In the meantime, combine herbs, 1 cup sugar, and water into a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Let simmer for two minutes, stirring to dissolve the sugar, and then remove from heat. Let herbs steep in the mixture until mixture is cooled. Strain and discard herbs.
  3. In a large punch bowl, strain tomato mixture into the punch bowl and fill with ice, lemon slices, lime slices, soda water, leftover herbs, leftover tomatoes, and soda water. Add in 1/4 cup herb simple syrup and taste test. Add more as needed.
  4. Serve right away.


garden tonic punch


Shelly is the creator of Vegetarian Ventures. She is also the Creative Director of Driftless Magazine and likes to wear wolf shirts, drink peppermint tea, and dance to Stevie Nicks.



  1. Reply

    Karen @ Seasonal Cravings

    August 24, 2016

    Congrats on your five years! This cocktail looks so refreshing and creative. Love those punch glasses too!

  2. Reply


    August 24, 2016

    Gorgeous. You are totally one of my blogging role models, congrats on five years!

  3. Reply

    molly yeh

    August 24, 2016

    happiest birthday, vv!!!!!! i am so obsessed with this punch, it is the perfect summer drink. i am doing this with all of my garden goodies!

  4. Reply


    August 25, 2016

    Seriously Shelly, this is so gorgeous! Like a garden party in a glass! And huge congrats on five years and all the amazing things you’ve accomplished in such a short time, the future will only get bigger and brighter for you friend!

  5. Reply


    August 26, 2016

    Woha, I am SO very into this tomato simple syrup situation! And how fun is it to walk back through the photography of the past five years? I actually kind of love the sprinkle mask. Pretty sure I had my fun with photoshop in my first year or two, too. Live and learn! And then drink drink drink! Cheers!

  6. Reply


    August 27, 2016

    Congratulations, Shelley! These photos are gorgeous and I hope you really do sit down and enjoy how far you’ve come. You’re right, it is so easy to get caught up in the day to day but this is beautiful space that you have created for you! I love this cocktail – I love tomatoes! Happy garden party weekend! x

  7. Reply

    Jayme Henderson

    August 27, 2016

    Happy blog-anniversary, Shelly! I think it is always so fun to look back over old photos and recipes; seeing growth is actually inspiring! I am absolutely SMITTEN with these garden-inspired cocktails! I will have to make some sort of twist on these, for sure. Our tomatoes are finally coming around. XO!

  8. Reply


    September 4, 2016

    Happy 5 years! Your work has gotten more stellar with time. Loved seeing your evolution through those 4 throwbacks. I’m still getting through my drink the summer post comments and I wanted to let you know that I sincerely loved the creativity in this post. What a great idea to drink your whole backyard in all its tomato-y goodness.

  9. Reply


    September 10, 2016

    I’m obsessed with this tomato syrup. You are a brilliant goddess. I love it, love you! And LOVE VV. I also really love seeing the photography on post #1. Your journey to where you are now is incredible, xx.

  10. Reply


    September 13, 2016

    Congrats on 5 years! I clicked through to the first anniversary post and YOU DID OVER 200 RECIPES THE FIRST YEAR?! Incredible. #howdoesshedoit #shine

    • Reply


      October 5, 2016

      Thanks, Alissa! Haha I don’t understand how I did that many recipes the first year either. A truly crazy accomplishment that will probably never happen again. ha!

  11. Reply

    Zerrin Günaydın

    October 4, 2016

    Happy blog-anniversary, Shelly! These photos are gorgeous. Can’t wait to try it!