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
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.