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Here’s the perfect summer cocktail for when herbs abound: the Gin Basil Smash! Use your basil plant for this refreshing and herbaceous drink.

Gin basil smash

Got basil? Love gin? Here’s the ideal drink for you: the Gin Basil Smash! This modern spin on the Whiskey Smash is light and herbaceous, pairing peppery basil with botanical gin. If there’s summer in a cocktail glass, this is it! We love drinking our herbs all season long, and this new addition to our summer cocktails perfectly captures that feeling of fresh cut grass between your toes and sticky melted popsicle fingers. (At least, we think so!)

What’s in a Gin Basil Smash?

The Gin Basil Smash is a cocktail made with gin, basil and fresh lemon juice, a riff on the popular Whiskey Smash. First published as a recipe in 1887, the Whiskey Smash pairs lemon, mint, sugar and crushed ice as a refreshing summer cocktail. Substitute in basil and gin, and you’ve got this drink.

This gin variation was invented in 2008 by a man named Jörg Meyer, owner of the Germany bar Bar Le Lion, who posted the recipe on his website. It became an international success and is now made around the world. (Read more about the origin story.) Here’s what you need to make a Gin Basil Smash:

Gin basil smash

How to muddle basil

The best time to make a Gin Basil Smash? The summer, when you have a big pot of bright green basil! You’ll need 8 to 10 basil leaves per drink, so it’s more economical to go the home-grown route. The cocktail skill we’ll use to extract that delicious, peppery flavor is called muddling. Muddling is gently mashing herbs to release their juices, which helps the flavors incorporate into drinks.

When it comes to herbs, you’ll want to have a gentle touch when muddling. Here’s how to muddle herbs, including basil:

  • Place the basil leaves in the bottom of a cocktail shaker. If you don’t have one, you can use a large metal cup or bowl.
  • With a wooden cocktail muddler or unfinished wooden spoon, gently mash the basil a few times to release the juices. Do not mash the basil with lots of force! The key to muddling is a light touch.

Basil is so easy to grow at home! Go to How to Grow Basil and How to Harvest Basil for more.

Best gin to use

Any type of gin works for a Gin Basil Smash! Try to find a mid-priced bottle, since price is usually indicative of quality when it comes to spirits. Here are a few tips for buying gin:

  • Every brand is different. There’s a wide range of botanical flavors in different brands of gin. Experiment to find your favorite!
  • Malfy gin is a good option: it has a nice balance of flavors.
  • Steer away from Tanqueray gin: in our opinion, it’s a little too floral.
Gin basil smash

When to serve a Gin Basil Smash

This refreshing cocktail is perfect for summer when basil abounds, but of course it works year round. Try it as a:

  • Summer cocktail
  • Happy hour drink
  • Dinner party drink
  • Late night drinks drink
  • Guys or girls night drink
  • Cocktail hour drink

More basil cocktails & mint cocktails

There are so many ways to use fresh herbs in cocktails in the summer! Here are a few more ideas:

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Gin basil smash

Gin Basil Smash

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


Here’s the perfect summer cocktail for when herbs abound: the Gin Basil Smash! Use your basil plant for this refreshing and herbaceous drink.


  • 8 to 10 large basil leaves, plus more for garnish
  • 2 ½ ounces* gin
  • ¾ ounce lemon juice
  • ¾ ounce simple syrup
  • Ice, for serving (try clear ice)


  1. Place the basil leaves in a cocktail shaker and muddle them (gently mash).
  2. Add the gin, lemon juice and simple syrup to the cocktail shaker. Add 2 handfuls ice and shake until cold.
  3. Strain the drink into an ice-filled lowball glass. If desired, top with splash of soda water. Garnish with additional basil leaves.


*To convert to tablespoons, 1 ounce = 2 tablespoons. 

  • Category: Drink
  • Method: Shaken
  • Cuisine: Cocktails
  • Diet: Vegan

Keywords: Gin basil smash

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. Love this cocktail — used the first basil of the season, and my favorite gin Empress 1908. Thank you!

  2. Nice cocktail. Very refreshing. I added a small dash of Fee Bros. whiskey barrel-ages bitters, which added enjoyable layer of complexity.

    Typo – I think you mean basil, not mint, in the muddling explanation.

  3. Hi, I just got the Malfy Limon Gin and am ready to do your recipe. Do I need to use Lemon juice since it already comes with a lemon flavor as it is not the original Malfy Gin? I would assume no.

    Thanks, Bob

    1. What type of gin would you use for this? My go to for a martini is bombay sapphire but not sure that’s the best for this one. Thx!

      1. It’s really up to personal preference… but I wouldn’t do a gin with savory spice notes. Our personal favorite is the original Malfy gin.