This lemon lime basil cocktail is full of peppery fresh flavor from the bright green herb! It’s sweet tart and easy to drink.
Love basil? Us too. Here’s our new favorite way to use it: this Basil Cocktail! The peppery green herb adds a beautifully fresh flavor to this drink. It’s a lemon lime gin drink: crisp and cool, with a sweet tart flavor. When Alex handed it to me and I took the first sip, I was sold. There’s nothing better than basil in the summer, and we think this is just the way to use it. (Or a Basil Gimlet.) Here’s how to use basil in cocktails, and the recipe for this lovely green drink.
How to make a basil cocktail (muddle it!)
How to use basil in cocktails? You muddle it! Muddling is a technique used in drinks to gently mash herbs or fruit to release their juices. This helps the flavors to integrate with the drink more than if you simply add whole leaves to the drink. What’s the right way to muddle? Here’s what you need to know:
- Gently mash the basil 3 to 4 times (in a cocktail shaker). Use a cocktail muddler or a wooden spoon. Do not mash it to a pulp! It should be just enough to release the juices.
- Add the lemon, lime, gin and simple syrup and shake with ice. Don’t have a cocktail shaker? See below.
- Strain and garnish. Strain the drink into a cocktail glass and garnish with basil. Voila! A beautiful basil cocktail.
Muddling tools, and a few alternatives
Muddling the basil is the main technique required for this basil cocktail. Here are the cocktail tools required for muddling. But if you don’t have a professional setup, we get it! You can make this drink with tools you likely already have in your house.
- Cocktail Shaker: A cocktail shaker quickly chills cocktails by shaking them against ice, and has a strainer so you can pour out the cocktail without pouring out the ice. What can I use instead of a cocktail shaker for muddling? Use a large metal cup or bowl for muddling: do not muddle in glass for safety reasons. You can transfer it to a glass canning jar to put the drink ingredients and ice into, then cover the top and shake! Pour it through a strainer into the serving glass.
- Cocktail Muddler: An unfinished wooden muddler is recommended so that no artificial flavors flake off into your drink. What can I use instead of a muddler? Use a wooden spoon.
The gin to use for this basil cocktail
The better the gin, the better the drink! This basil cocktail is fantastic with lots of different types of gin. We typically suggest buying a mid-price range bottle of gin: this is usually indicative of quality. Here are a few more notes on gin:
- Every bottle of gin tastes a little different and has different botanical flavors. Experiment to find your favorite!
- We like Malfy gin, so that’s what we used here.
- Steer away from Tanqueray gin: in our personal opinion, it gives a strong floral quality.
Growing and storing fresh basil
Fresh basil is fantastic for cocktails of all kinds. You can also use it for non-alcoholic drinks by blending it into smoothies or using it in infused waters. Here are a few notes on how to grow and store fresh basil:
- Growing it at home is easy! All you need is a pot and a sunny ledge. Go to How to Grow Basil.
- Prune it regularly. The way to keep basil healthy is to harvest regularly. Go to How to Harvest Basil.
- Store cut basil in a covered jar with water. This extends the life to 3 to 5 days. See How to Store Basil.
More cocktails with herbs
Fresh herbs add the best flavor to cocktails! Here are some of our top herb-based cocktails:
- Basil Gimlet This basil gimlet is where it’s at, with lime juice, gin, and muddled basil, which gives it a fresh peppery essence.
- Classic Mojito One of the most famous herby cocktails! The Mojito is all about herby mint. This iconic Cuban cocktail is refreshing and just sweet enough.
- Blackberry Bourbon Smash Refreshing and perfect for parties, featuring muddled blackberries, lime, and mint.
- Gin Gin Mule A modern classic, a mashup of a bubbly Moscow mule and a minty Mojito.
- Rosemary Fizz Cocktail Combines the fragrant, herbal flavor of rosemary with lemon and lots of bubbles!
- Southside Cocktail or Southside Fizz An easy and refreshing gin drink made with mint, lemon and lime: or add bubbles to make it a fizz.
When to serve a basil cocktail
This refreshing basil cocktail is perfect for summer when basil abounds. Try it as a:
- Signature drink
- Summer cocktail
- Happy hour drink
- Dinner party drink
- Late night drinks drink
- Guys or girls night drink
- Cocktail hour drink
- 4 fresh basil leaves, plus more for a garnish
- 2 ounces (4 tablespoons) gin
- 1/2 ounce (1 tablespoon) lemon juice
- 1/2 ounce (1 tablespoon) lime juice
- 1/2 ounce (1 tablespoon) simple syrup
- For the garnish: basil leaf
- Add the basil leaves to a cocktail shaker and gently muddle 4 to 5 times until the oil is released, but the basil is not broken.
- Add the remaining ingredients to the cocktail shaker. Fill it with ice and shake until cold.
- Strain the drink into a glass. Garnish with a fresh basil leaf.
- Category: Drink
- Method: Shaken
- Cuisine: Cocktails
Keywords: Basil cocktail
About the Authors
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 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.