A gimlet is traditionally a gin drink made with lime juice and simple syrup, usually served with a wheel of lime on the rim. Vodka can be easily substituted and in fact, a vodka gimlet has become Lisa’s go-to cocktail. (By the way, this is Eddie, Lisa’s husband, guest-blogging). In this recipe, I am adding basil which introduces a new, refreshing flavor plus the opportunity to feature a basil leaf as a garnish. It’s an especially delicious summer drink but like most cocktails can be enjoyed in any season.
Lisa and I had plans a few Friday nights back to meet at a club called George. As I was getting ready to head over she called to let me know they were having a cocktail competition and she thought I should give it a go.
The competition organizers asked for a list of the ingredients in advance. The core spirit had to be vodka since the contest was sponsored by Absolut Elyx. After finding out what ingredients they had on hand and talking through some options with Lisa, I opted for a basil vodka gimlet. In addition to trying to win over the judges with the heavy vodka proportion, I had a trick up my sleeve and was looking forward to trying it out.
Shortly after I arrived, they announced the rules of the contest. There were five or six criteria on which the drink entries would be judged, including the name of the drink, taste, balance of the ingredients, passion of the contestant and so on. For a name, I came up with The Absolut Basil Dazzle. Including ‘Absolut’ in the name was a nod to the sponsors, who I assumed (correctly) would also be judges. For the rest of the name, it’s important for you to know that here in London, basil rhymes with dazzle.
(that’s me below at Club George shaking up my Basil Dazzle)
After icing down the martini glass, I muddled the basil with a small amount of sugar and some of the lime juice in the bottom of the shaker. Then I added the rest of the lime juice and the vodka along with some simple syrup and ice, shook the shaker vigorously (with “passion”), and strained the contents into the glass.
Then the surprise. I pulled out of my pocket a tiny clothespin I had brought along with me and affixed a leaf of basil to the rim of the glass.
The judges nearly fell off their stools. I had just ordered a bunch of these clothespins after first seeing them used in cocktails at a place called the Whistling Shop in London. I am always after new cocktail accessory ideas that add a little something extra to a drink.
My basil vodka gimlet took second place, and as a prize I won the beautiful copper cocktail set pictured in this post.
The winning cocktail took a very different direction, with a generous helping of cayenne pepper featuring strongly in the flavor.
In truth, my drink came out a tiny bit sweeter than I had planned, as I hadn’t adequately adjusted the amount of simple syrup for the sugar I used in the muddling process. (The idea I had in adding the sugar was that its grit would possibly enhance muddling effectiveness.) The recipe below eliminates the sugar entirely. The sweetness is now as it should be and it turns out the muddling works fine without the sugar.
The Basil Vodka Gimlet or The Basil Dazzle, as we usually call it, has become Lisa’s new favorite cocktail. We bought a basil plant and we water it faithfully to keep up with demand.
If you follow Panning The Globe you might already know that I’m in charge of cocktails here. Here are a few more you might enjoy:
Here’s the recipe for making a Basil Vodka Gimlet and if you try it out please come back and leave a comment.Print
Basil Vodka Gimlet
A refreshing lime and basil infused vodka cocktail with a touch of sweetness.
- Prep Time: 5 mins
- Total Time: 5 mins
- Yield: 1 drink 1x
- 5 or 6 large basil leaves plus one for garnish
- 1 ounce fresh lime juice
- ½ ounce simple syrup
- 3 ½ ounces vodka
- Optional flourish: a tiny clothespin to pin a basil leaf to the glass
- Place the lime juice and the basil into a metal cocktail shaker. Using a muddler, mash the basil leaves thoroughly against the bottom of the shaker.
- Add the simple syrup and vodka and fill with ice cubes to the surface of the liquid. Shake vigorously until the shaker is freezing your hands, perhaps 15 seconds or so. My feeling is you can’t serve a gimlet that’s too cold and besides a good shake is part of the presentation. Show some passion!
- Strain into a martini glass, and garnish with a basil leaf. If you have a tiny clothespin (here’s a link) use that to fasten the basil leaf to the glass. If not, you could hang a lime wheel over the side and use a toothpick to attach the basil leaf to the lime.
- Serve immediately.