A Basil Gimlet Adventure

by Jen on May 27, 2011

Awhile back I had the most delicious cocktail I have ever had.  It was at Fonda, a tapas restaurant in Albany. Composed of muddled basil, simple syrup, lime juice and gin, it was sweet, so very spicy and all around delicious.  My mouth waters just thinking about it.

When my mother joined us for dinner last Friday, I got it in my head that I was going to try making Basil Gimlets for us.  A Google search yielded a collection of recipes.  Many required that I create a basil-infused simple syrup a day or so ahead of time.  As it was just hours before dinner that I decided on this venture, those recipes were out of the question.

For my first try, I muddled five leaves of basil in the juice of one lime and a teaspoon of white sugar in a Collins glass.  This is where I made my first mistake.  I put whole basil leaves in the glass and expected the muddler to make mincemeat out of them.  It wasn’t happening, and I realized this was the first muddled drink I had made.  I asked Will why it wasn’t working, and he said he was surprised I hadn’t chopped the basil first.  Some things are so obvious to some people!

I grabbed my kitchen scissors and used them to coarsely chop the basil in the glasses.   I added 1 1/2 ounces of gin (Beefeater’s…it’s what we had on hand), some ice and stirred.

It looked yummy enough and we couldn’t wait to try it.  But once we had, we were almost sorry.  It wasn’t nearly sweet enough.  I added a dash of simple syrup to each and it was better.  But it still didn’t have the incredibly sweet spicy taste of the one Fonda had made.

We drank it anyway, and it was, actually, pretty good.  But as we drank it, it dawned on me…this was one dangerous drink.  The large bits of basil were always getting stuck on our teeth!

Not a good drink for date night.

Determined to get the drink right, I tried again.  This time I chopped the basil in our mini Cuisinart until it couldn’t be chopped any longer.

No basil was getting stuck in our teeth this time!

I muddled 1 heaping teaspoon of chopped basil with the juice of one lime, and 1 1/2 teaspoon white sugar in a cocktail shaker.  I added 1 1/2 ounces of gin and stirred over ice.

This time, though, I poured the cocktail through a strainer into a stemless martini glass.

This one was better, and delicious, but still nowhere near as good as the Basil Gimlet in my memory.

Basil Gimlet Try #2, you were delicious, but my quest is far from over!

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

joe May 28, 2011 at 2:34 am

Nice. Any use for this mountain of oregano I seem to have acquired?


Jen June 13, 2011 at 7:33 pm

Not at the moment, but I’ll add to the ideas bouncing around in my head and get back to you!


Ronda July 23, 2011 at 9:32 pm

Hey Jen, saw this post, drooled for a month, then saw a basil gimlet on the menu at Bocanova in jack London square on Monday. Anyway, ordered it, fell in love. Today I made a reasonably good recreation. I think we should collaborate.


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