Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Spiked Basil Lemonade

Our cross-country move is just around the corner, and Lee and I have been trying to make maximum use of the food and beverages in our cupboards. Among other things, this has meant trying out new cocktail ideas.

When we first moved to Oak Park, Lee and I hosted a small cocktail party, inviting our new coworkers. The party was great fun, but the coworkers were mostly beer and wine drinkers.

Now, about one year later, our little bar is brimming with bottles of neglected spirits. Tossing most of this liquor is inevitable; but in the meantime, we are trying out a few new cocktails so all is not wasted.

Tonight's experiment was a spiked version of our favorite summer drink, basil lemonade. I used an iced tea pitcher for this, but you could easily replicate it with a regular pitcher and a strainer.

Start by mixing half a cup each of sugar and hot water to make a simple syrup. Roughly chop a generous handful of basil (probably two cups, before chopping) and let it steep in the syrup for a little while, maybe 15 minutes or so. Add the juice of two lemons and a couple cups of ice cubes, and let it steep in the fridge for another 15-30 minutes. Remove the pitcher from the refrigerator and strain out the basil leaves. This is one of the fun tricks with this drink--it looks like lemonade but has an added kick from the basil. If you wanted a non-alcoholic basil lemonade, add another 1/2 to 3/4 cup of water and serve. For a spiked lemonade, use vodka in place of the water.

It's a great balance of flavors--neither too sweet nor too strong, grown-up without tasting overly boozy.



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