Basil & Lemon Vodka Gimlet

Let’s just say it was not a hot-shouldered day when we made this summertime classic. In fact, autumn (and what felt like snow) was but a dozen days away. Alas, the basil crop on the porch seemed neither to know nor care, so… when summer gives you basil, make Basil & Lemon Gimlets! Hopefully you won’t have to drink them indoors with the furnace on… And now for some sketchy facts.


The gimlet, originally made with gin and lime cordial, owes its name to Surgeon General Sir Thomas Gimlet of the Royal Navy. As the lore goes, he prescribed the drink to his men as a lime-tastic way to ward off the scurvy. And now for our version, which we made in a pitcher because, well, it was that kind of a day.


  • 3/4 cup vodka
  • 3/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 3/4 cup basil lemon syrup (see recipe)
  • Ice cubes
  • Sprigs of fresh basil, to garnish
  • Strips of lemon zest, to garnish

For the basil lemon syrup

  • 2 cups packed basil leaves
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4, 1-inch strips of lemon zest

To make the syrup, bring the bail leaves, water, sugar, and lemon zest to a boil in a small pot. Stir to dissolve the sugar, and then take it off the heat. Let cool to room temperature, strain into a Mason jar, and put in the fridge to chill.
To a pitcher filled with ice cubes, add the vodka, lemon juice, and syrup. Stir to chill, and strain into ice-filled tumblers. Garnish with a sprig of basil and a curl of lemon zest.

The verdict: Add self-control to the ingredients list. Refreshing, balanced (neither too sweet, sour, nor strong) and delightfully herbaceous—without tasting medicinal. A definite thumbs-up from all.


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