Friday, March 28, 2014

Basil vodka lemonade

I can't believe I haven't shared this yet! I've been making this basil vodka lemonade for at least a year now, and it's become one of my favorite warm weather drinks. It's relatively easy and perfect for a pitcher pour, which is a major requirement for make ahead party drinks.

{basil vodka lemonade}

I bring sparkling water on the side and let people adjust to their liking. As written, the recipe is very, very strong - not just alcohol-wise, but in tartness. Some people like to drink it straight and others will dilute it down a bit. I like a splash of water in mine if I'm drinking it as a cocktail, and a bit more if I'm having it as an afternoon picnic drink.

Basil lemon syrup (based on this recipe  - makes 2 1/2 cups, enough for two batches of lemonade)

4 cups packed basil (just the top 4", from about a 1/2 lb bunch)
2 cups water
1 cup sugar
9 strips of lemon zest (I use a vegetable peeler for this, make sure to get as little white as possible)

:: Bring all ingredients to a boil in a medium saucepan and stir until sugar is dissolved.
:: Allow it to stand at room temperature for about an hour, then chill in the refrigerator at least an hour, until very cold.
:: Strain through a sieve, pressing with the back of a spoon to get all the liquid out.
:: Discard the solids (except I like to eat the lemon peels or save them for garnish - they're like candy!) and keep the syrup in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Basil vodka lemonade (makes 6 - 8 drinks, or a bit more if you go heavy with the sparkling water. Based on this recipe, but I modified the proportions to make it tarter and stronger - big surprise, right?)

1 1/4 cup basil lemon syrup
1 1/2 cups vodka
1 1/2 cups fresh lemon juice
Sparkling water, to taste

:: Pour everything into a bottle and mix it up. Pour over plenty of ice, add a dash (or more) of sparkling water.


If I'm finishing off a bottle of alcohol to make a drink I'm taking to a party, I'll call it serendipity and just pour the mixed drink back in the original bottle. It may look less classy, but it's nice to know the bottle can just get tossed in the recycling when it's finished. Or I guess the host could keep the leftovers without worrying about returning the bottle, but this has never happened because it always disappears before dinner.


  1. that sounds amazing! how far in advance do you make it? Or how long can you keep it once it's mixed?

    1. I usually make it the morning of or the day before. I've made it two days ahead and it was still great! I think it's pretty forgiving, so you could probably make it 4 - 5 days ahead with no problems.

  2. Sounds amazing! How many lemons does it take to yield 1 1/2 cups of fresh lemon juice?

    1. Totally depends on your lemons! I think we used about 6 medium lemons but they were from my parents' tree and I always think those give more juice. With the smaller, storebought lemons you might need 8 -10, depending on how juicy they are.

  3. this is such a good call for a fancy picnic i'm anticipating. thank you as always, beverage-wise one!

  4. sounds delicious! and maybe i've said this before but i LOVE those little tumblers.

  5. I want to try this! Looks fabulous.


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