Basil Gimlet Recipe

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. Ready to get started on how to make it?

Basil gimlet

What is a gimlet?

A gin gimlet is a classic 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.

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.

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:

  • 24-Ounce Cocktail Shaker: A cocktail shaker quickly chills cocktails by shaking them against ice, then has a perforated lid so you can pour out the cocktail without pouring out the ice as well.
  • Cocktail Muddler: A cocktail muddler is used to mash fruits and herbs in a glass or cocktail shaker to release their flavor.

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


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

Description

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.


Scale

Ingredients

  • 3 fresh basil leaves, plus more for a garnish
  • 1/4 cup gin
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup

Instructions

  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

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About the Authors

Sonja Overhiser

Cookbook Author and writer

Sonja Overhiser is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best healthy cookbooks of 2018. She’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the food blog A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Sonja seeks to inspire adventurous eating to make the world a better place one bite at a time.

Alex Overhiser

Cookbook Author and photographer

Alex Overhiser is an acclaimed food photographer and author based in Indianapolis. He’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the recipe website A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Alex is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best vegetarian cookbooks by Epicurious.

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