Lemon Basil Gimlet

Last week’s recipe post was for Chili Lime Cashews (link here) that I brought to a friend’s cabin, along with a specialty cocktail. I had a few people ask for the cocktail that I referenced paring with the spicy sweet snack – so here it is! This is from my good friend that is pretty much amazing when it comes to choosing (and making) the perfect drink, and she assured me this was a favorite of all her guests. When asked to bring a specialty cocktail to a dinner (or a weekend outing), picking a cocktail that incorporates a flavored simple syrup is a nice way to bring a drink that is a bit more special than the traditional summer vodka lemonade, yet doesn’t involve a lot of fuss when mixing, since the “work” can be done ahead of time. I also like a recipe that is conducive to preparing a pitcher of the drink, so I don’t have to measure each time. See below for recipe and a few preparation notes.


Lemon Basil Gimlet
(Source: Epicurious)

Makes 6 drinks


•1 cup basil lemon syrup (see below)
•3/4 cup vodka
•3/4 cup fresh lemon juice
•1 cup ice cubes
•Garnish: fresh basil sprigs (lemon basil if you can find it); lemon zest strips


Stir together all ingredients in a pitcher until cold, then strain into 8- to 10-ounce glasses, half filled with ice.

Basil Lemon Syrup
Makes about 5 cups


•4 cups packed fresh basil sprigs (top 4 inches; from a 1/2-pound bunch)
•4 cups water
•2 cups sugar (I used Splenda for the second time I made this, to help cut the calories, and it worked well)
•9 (4- by 1-inch) strips lemon zest


Bring all ingredients to a boil in a medium saucepan, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Let stand at room temperature, covered, for 1 hour. Transfer to an airtight container and chill until cold, about 1 hour. Strain syrup thourough a sieve into a bowl, pressing hard on and then discarding solids.

Note: These drinks are yummy – consider doubling the batch if you think your guests will want to enjoy more than one. You will be making more syrup than you need anyway – might as well use it all (although it will keep if you cover and chill it, for about 5 days). I used lemon basil for the syrup the first time I made this and while good, it was pretty sweet. I prefer and recommend regular basil – plus, it is much easier to find! Have plenty of fresh lemons on hand for guests to add a squeeze if they like a little more tartness to their drink.

2 Comments on Lemon Basil Gimlet

  1. Karen
    August 21, 2015 at 6:42 pm (7 years ago)

    Having experienced these – totally amazing! I am also convinced to recommendation to double the batch is because of us.

    • Kerry
      August 21, 2015 at 9:56 pm (7 years ago)

      Yes, it is always our guests’ fault. If it were up to us, Trevor and I would just split one. (;


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