Basil Gimlet

Basil Gimlet - original watercolor by The Cocktail Artist
For a number of years this has been one of our favorite summer cocktails, but we just can't resist continuing to tweak it. We've made it with either gin or vodka with good results, but when we tried adding a bit of aquavit we felt that we had arrived at the perfect balance. The fresh basil really comes through when enhanced by the herbal flavor of the aquavit.

The lime juice and muddled basil also give the cocktail a vibrant green color - making it a lovely muse for a watercolor painting.

Because we love Italian food, we always have plenty of sweet basil growing during the summer - usually in pots so that it can be moved around during the course of the growing season. When the weather gets cool we bring it indoors just to extend the taste of summer a bit longer. If you are not growing basil at home you can certainly find it now at the farmer's market. To keep cut basil fresh, trim the stems and put it in a jar or vase (as you would with cut flowers). Cover the leaves loosely with a plastic bag and leave it out on the counter. It should keep for about a week. For more about storing basil see this post from bon appetit.

We have also tried making a basil simple syrup to use in this cocktail (as opposed to muddling the fresh basil). It worked ok, and was much simpler when we had a large group for cocktails (we didn't have to spend so much time muddling, straining, etc.), but the freshness of the basil was muted. We ended up freezing the simple syrup in a silicone ice cube tray so that we can use it in the future, but while we have fresh basil we'll stick with the recipe below.

So mix up a gimlet, put together a nice appetizer plate of cured Italian meats and an Insalata Caprese and enjoy. Cheers!

Basil Gimlet

5 medium sized leaves of fresh basil
1 1/2 ounces gin (or vodka if you prefer)
1/2 ounce aquavit
1 ounce lime juice
3/4 ounce simple syrup

Muddle basil with lime juice in a cocktail shaker. Add gin, aquavit, and simple syrup. Shake well with ice cubes and strain through a mesh strainer into a chilled cocktail coupe. Garnish with a small basil leaf.

The Basil Gimlet Cocktail

Watercolor sketch of basil - by the Cocktail Artist

The cocktail and some of the ingredients

Fresh basil from the garden - a bit too much for just cocktails!

The Basil Gimlet and the Blue Garden Cocktail make a nice color palette for summer (see previous blog post for the Blue Garden recipe).

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