I have to admit that I love Basil, but I never really thought about Basil cocktails until I started growing this herb in our garden. After realizing that I could grow Basil without killing it, I started putting it in everything…. Thankfully my insidious fascination has been brought under control, but Basil cocktails still hold a strong position in my warm weather beverage rotation.
For those not familiar with Basil, it’s a green-leafy herb popular across the globe. Perhaps best known for use in Italian cuisine, Basil has been used for thousands of years. However despite the popularly it enjoys today, Basil has been the source of negative attitudes and even a couple crazy myths. My favorite is that Basil would cause scorpions to grow in people’s brains. Really, I’m not making that one up.
What Does Basil Taste Like?
Defining the flavor of Basil can get tricky since there are a number of different varieties, however most people agree that anise and clove are prominent in its flavor and aroma. Typically Basic can be grouped into two types; Sweet and Asian. Although similar, Asian Basil tends to have a more distinct anise flavor.
Sweet Basil (aka Italian Basil) is the most common variety used in North American and probably the variety that you’ll most easily be able to find for Basil cocktails.
How to Pronounce Basil
Surely most people that cook regularly are familiar with this herb, but for those unacquainted here’s a quick & dirty herbal linguistic lesson:
Basil Cocktails: Refreshing and Pungeant
Through research and some” experimentation” I found that there’s a wide range of Basil cocktail recipes, but home bartenders definitely need to be selective. Overall I’ve found that lightly flavored spirits give the herb enough room to exhibit it’s characteristic flavor, while heavier tastes tend to overwhelm it. As a result, Gin, Vodka and Rum seem to work the best for me, however if you find something I’ve missed please email me.
2 Basil Cocktail Recipes to Get You Started
Although Basil tends to have a very unique flavor, it manages to pair well with a number of tastes. Of course you’d probably guess that it may go well with tomato due to its use in Mediterranean cooking, but it’s equally tasty with lemon, lime, mint and even cinnamon.
Honey – Basil Lemonade (No Alcohol)
Believe it or not, even The Cocktail Novice needs to take a break from the constant parade of alcoholic drinks. However with a tasty non-alcoholic lemonade like this, I could get used to it.
- 1 cup fresh juice from 10 to 12 lemons
- 1/2 cup honey
- 2 cups loosely packed basil leaves
- Pinch salt
- 3 cups cold water
- 1 quart ice
- Basil leaves for garnish
- Combine lemon juice, honey, basil leaves, and salt in a blender.
- Blend on high speed until smooth ( about 1 minute).
- Strain through a fine mesh strainer into a pitcher. Discard solids.
- Add cold water and whisk to combine.
- Add ice. Serve in ice-filled glasses garnished with basil leaves.
The Basil North Cocktail
Perhaps best thought of a cross between a Lemon Drop and an Apple Martini, The Basil North Cocktail is a fresh, tasty cocktail that lends itself well to cooler temperatures.
- ¾ oz. Apple Juice
- 1 ¾ oz. Vodka
- 2 Basil Leaves
- ½ Lemon, Juiced
- Dash of sugar
- Combine All Ingredients into a Cocktail Shaker Filled with Ice
- Shake well.
- Fine Strain Into a Chilled Cocktail Glass