I was cruising the Sunset test garden yesterday morning and came across just the combo to throw together for a bright-tasting, super-aromatic drink to have on the stove for guests this holiday season. Lemongrass, lemon verbena, and fresh lemons all go into the mix, and it's good as a virgin drink—like a sophisticated version of lemonade—or with a splash of brandy. (Perfect for those multi-age gatherings.) Here's how it came together.

The lemon corner in the Sunset test garden, with bushy lemongrass, a Eureka lemon tree, and a lemon verbena shrub.

Triple lemon toddy


1 qt. packed lemon verbena leaves

6 fresh lemongrass stalks, root ends trimmed, coarse leaves pulled off, and coarsely chopped

About 3/4 cup honey

1/2 cup fresh lemon juice

Zest from 1 lemon, peeled in a long spiral

Brandy (optional)

1. Put lemon verbena and lemongrass in an 8-qt. pot and add 2 qts. water.

2. Cover pot and heat just until starting to simmer. Remove from heat and let stand 20 minutes. Strain into another pot.

3. Stir in 3/4 cup honey and the lemon juice. Taste and add more honey if you like. Add lemon zest spiral and heat until steaming. Ladle into mugs and add a splash of brandy if you like. Happy holidays!

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