It’s August and hot, hot, hot. That adorable 3″ basil plant you potted up in May is now an enormous shrub. You’ve eaten so much pesto the only thing you’ve yet to spread it on is your arm (and sure, it was a fine baby shower gift). Now what? Try a gimlet.
The gimlet belongs to the slew of vintage cocktails that have been rediscovered by modern mixology. The classic version is equal parts gin and Rose’s Lime Juice (a concentrated, sweetened, lime juice), but the current school of cocktail craftsmen prefer fresh lime juice and a little simple syrup. Basil’s herbaceous, minty flavor adds a refreshing twist to the gin and lime that’s all sorts of awesome.
BASIL GIN GIMLET
Yield: one cocktail
For the basil simple syrup:
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup water
3 generous stems of basil
1 glass jar
Place basil stems in the jar. Bring water to a boil. Add the sugar, reduce heat, and stir until completely dissolved. Remove from heat and pour over basil to steep. Refrigerate when cool. After a few days, discard basil. Keeps for several weeks.
For the gimlet:
2 ounces gin (Plymouth, Nolet’s, or Watershed recommended; see note below)
1 ounce fresh squeezed lime juice
1/4 ounce basil simple syrup (up to 1/2 ounce if you prefer sweeter)
2 or 3 basil leaves
In a shaker, bruise (don’t muddle) the basil leaves gently. Add ice, gin, lime juice, and simple syrup. Shake vigorously and strain into a coupe or other small cocktail glass. Float a basil leaf on top.
Note: The mellow earthiness, pepper and fruity notes of Plymouth Gin blends well with the aromatic basil. Nolet’s Silver Dry Gin is softer, with a fruit-and-floral-forward palate (peach, rose, & raspberry). Watershed Gin (out of Columbus, Ohio) has zesty pepper and citrus peel notes, and a lovely creamy texture.