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Move over, classic gimlet! This basil gimlet is where it’s at, featuring lime juice, gin, and muddled basil, which gives it a fresh peppery essence.

Basil gimlet

Herbs in cocktails? Yes, please. Alex and I grow fresh basil every year and use it in recipes from pesto to pizza. But we’d never yet used it in a cocktail. What an oversight! Basil’s peppery flavor could not be more perfect in cocktail recipes. Here it pairs nicely with the botanical essence of gin in a basil gimlet, a drink made of lime juice, gin and muddled basil. Truly the perfect summer drink! Ready to get started?

Love basil and gin? Try our Gin Basil Smash or Basil “Collins”!

What is a gimlet?

A gin gimlet is a classic sour cocktail made of lime juice, gin and simple syrup. While it became popular in the 1950’s, it’s included in a 1930’s cocktail book so it’s decades older. The origin of the name “gimlet” is contested — see our Classic Gin Gimlet for more on the history. However it came to be, the gimlet has now solidified itself in history as one of the great gin cocktails.

You can make all sorts of fancy flavors of gimlets by adding whatever you choose: an herb, citrus flavor, or berry. Here, we’ve muddled basil with the gin to create a basil gimlet.

Basil gimlet

How to make a basil gimlet

If a gin gimlet is good, a basil gimlet is even better! A gin gimlet is tangy and sweet, with a front end smell of gin, but fairly balanced on the back end. It tastes a little like a stronger version of a gin fizz. But adding fresh basil to a gimlet really rounds out the flavors. It has less of a strong gin flavor, if that’s something that you prefer. And if you add a splash of soda water, which is also traditional in a gimlet, it rounds it out even more.

When Alex and I taste tested a gin gimlet against the basil gimlet, we loved both: but the basil gimlet is more elevated. Adding the fresh basil flavor really steps it up a notch! Here’s how to make a basil gimlet (see the full recipe quantities below):

  • Add fresh basil leaves and gin to a cocktail shaker. Muddle the leaves 4 to 5 times until the leaves are crushed.
  • Add the lime juice and pure maple syrup to a cocktail shaker, and shake with ice.
  • Pour into a glass and add a splash of soda water if desired.
  • Garnish with additional fresh basil leaves.

One note on the sweetener: Alex and I like to drink naturally sweetened drinks, so we use pure maple syrup in many of our cocktail recipes. We find that it sweetens drinks in a gentler way than simple syrup — and we like that it’s a natural sweeter (and often we can buy it locally). However, you could use simple syrup if you prefer.

Love basil in drinks? Try this Gin & Basil Cocktail.

How to grow basil

How to grow and store basil

Basil is easy to grow at home: and it’s very hardy as long as you place it in full sun! Basil is our top herb to grow, because it adds an aromatic flavor to such a wide variety of recipes. Growing basil at home is also much cheaper than buying it at the store. If you’re looking to grow your own basil plant, we have a step by step guide: How to Grow Basil.

When you harvest branches of your basil plant and bring them inside, they’ll wilt after about an hour unless you follow this trick! Place a little water in the bottom of a large ball jar, then place the stems inside, cut side down. Twist on the top and it will stay fresh for 3 to 5 days in the refrigerator. See How to Store Basil.

Bottle of gin

What gin should I buy?

Because this basil gimlet cocktail is so simple, it’s all about quality here. The better the gin, the better the drink. The easiest way to tell if a gin is high quality? Don’t buy the cheapest gin on the shelf. Try to invest in a mid-price range gin: the drink will only taste as good as the gin you invest in!

If you live in a city that has local distilleries, be on the lookout for local spirits! We used gin from 8th Day Distillery here in Indianapolis.

What type of glass is a gimlet served in?

A classic gin gimlet is traditionally served in a cocktail glass, which is similar shape to a martini glass. A cocktail glass is slightly smaller and more rounded, and a martini glass is more of a cone shape and has a shorter stem. So if you’d like to be totally classic, go with a martini glass. (What other drinks are served in a martini glass? Try our Cosmopolitan or Lemon Drop Martini.)

For this basil gimlet, we decided to serve it in an Old Fashioned glass because we liked the look! This could also work with a lowball glass if you have that type of glass on hand. And of course, you can serve a basil gimlet in whatever glass you like and it’s still a gimlet! We’re not cocktail purists over here.

Cocktail shaker

Do I need a cocktail shaker and a muddler?

If you’re into cocktails like we are, we’d invest in a cocktail shaker and a muddler. Here are the ones we use:

What can I use instead of a cocktail shaker? Use a glass mason jar. Place the cocktail in the jar and fill it with ice. Screw on the top and shake away! Then pour out the cocktail through a strainer.

What can I use instead of a muddler? Use a wooden spoon.

Basil gimlet recipe

This basil gimlet recipe is..

Vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free, plant-based, naturally sweet, and refined sugar free.

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Basil gimlet

Basil Gimlet Recipe

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 5 minutes
  • Yield: 1 drink 1x


Move over, classic gimlet! This basil gimlet is where it’s at, featuring lime juice, gin, and muddled basil, which gives it a fresh peppery essence.


  • 3 fresh basil leaves, plus more for a garnish
  • 2 ounces (4 tablespoons) gin
  • ½ ounce (1 tablespoon) lime juice
  • ½ ounce (1 tablespoon) simple syrup or maple syrup


  1. Add the basil leaves and gin to a cocktail shaker and muddle 4 to 5 times until the basil leaves are crushed.
  2. Add the lime juice and maple syrup to the cocktail shaker. Fill it with ice and shake until cold.
  3. Strain the drink into a glass. Top with a splash of soda water, if desired. Garnish with a fresh basil leaf (fastened via a skewer, if desired).
  • Category: Drink
  • Method: Shaken
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: Basil gimlet, Basil gimlet recipe, Gimlet recipe, Basil cocktail recipe, Herb cocktail recipes

Looking for more drink recipes?

Outside of this basil gimlet recipe, here are a few more of our favorite drink recipes:

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Hi, we’re Alex and Sonja Overhiser, married cookbook authors, food bloggers, and recipe developers. We founded A Couple Cooks to share fresh, seasonal recipes for memorable kitchen moments! Our recipes are made by two real people and work every time.

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1 Comment

  1. I really like the recipe- but substituted Vodka for Gin and Agave for maple syrup. The basil adds an extra layer of freshness to the Gimlet on a hot summer day. Note that simple syrup is usually always natural – I prefer Agave but do make my own simple with cane sugar which is natural, as is most simple syrup.