I first posted this most wondrous of summer refreshers about three years ago. It was then a revelation in deliciousness (also a perfect use for that neglected bottle of vodka in my liquor cabinet) that I didn't make at all last year in a remarkable few months of not caring about my personal well being. Needless to say, what with my own plants bursting with basil, that oversight was corrected recently. Several times over in fact. This is simply one of the unimaginably delicious summer cocktails you will EVER slurp down. Really and truly. Even my normally moderate wife knocked back two of these in short order last weekend and came at me with a thirsty gleam in her eye looking for more! Plus it has loads of seasonal cred in case that over-used and most tiresome of words has meaning for you. For me I'll just roll with the fact that this lovely libation satisfies on every single level, and leaves me with the most pleasant summer glow I can imagine!
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Basil Vodka Gimlets
makes six drinks
note: the recipe calls for stirring them in a pitcher and serving them in an 8 to 10 ounce highball glass filled with ice. I much prefer them shaken and served up, so the nuanced flavors don't dilute in the melting ice.
1 cup basil lemon syrup (recipe follows)
3/4 to 1 cup vodka
3/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
Mix together all three ingredients in a pitcher. Fill cocktail shaker 3/4 full of ice. Pour enough mixture to just cover the ice cubes. Shake the hell out of it. Strain into martini glasses. Repeat as necessary!
Garnish with basil sprigs or lemon twists if you want.
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Basil Lemon Syrup
makes about 5 cups
4 cups packed fresh basil leaves
4 cups water
2 cups sugar
9 or 10 (3-by 1") strips of lemon peel
Bring all ingredients to a boil in a medium sauce pan, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Let stand at room temperature, covered, for one hour, then transfer to refrigerator to chill for one hour. Strain syrup through a sieve into a bowl, pressing hard on and then discarding solids.
* Syrup keeps, covered and chilled, 5 days.