This is one of my perennial favourites. This is my fall back cocktail when I need to impress chicks but can’t think of anything better. The recipe is straight off the Food & Wine Cocktails ‘09 guide that I am going to be perusing liberally from over the next 365 days.
The recipe is by mixologist Todd Thrasher of the Restaurant Eve fame in Alexandria, Virginia. He has a penchant for experimenting with unlikely ingredients like pickled foams and peach “airs”…a result of working with molecular gastronomists like José Andrés. The latter trained directly under Ferran Adria of the El Bulli fame.
This simple recipe is brought alive by using fresh basil, preferably harvested just before making the drink:
10 basil leaves + 1 for garnish (optional)
3 oz. Little Blanc
1/2 oz. gin (Hendricks is my favourite, but any brand will do)
1 oz. Simple Syrup (1/2 oz. if you don’t like it too sweet)
In a cocktail shaker, gently muddle the basil leaves until the fragrance wafts up the cocktail shaker. Add the ice, Lillet Blanc, gin, and simple syrup. Shake well.
Double strain (optional, I prefer bits of basil leaves in mine) and pour the drink into a chilled coupe. Garnish with the remaining basil leaf. Viola!
I love the fruity overtones in the cocktail. Lillet is basically a brand of French aperitif wine. It’s made from a shit ton of of different grape wines and 15% macerated orange liqueurs, including green oranges (!) from Haiti. It can be had on it’s own or as part of a cocktail. And of course, who doesn’t like getting punched in the face by the sweet yet minty aroma of basil?
Even though Lillet itself is an aperitif, I think you could have Sweet Basil as either a pre- or post-dinner drink as it is just sweet enough to satisfy my dessert cravings. The 1 oz. simple syrup is a bit excessive in my opinion, as the Lillet itself is pretty sweet, but feel free to try out your own combinations.