Fresh-picked basil, still warm from the garden, is something we look forward to all year in Sonoma. Muddled and mixed with brights citrus and the subtle heat of ginger, this summer refresher will make any afternoon sweeter.
(makes 2 cocktails)
12 basil leaves (reserve 2 leaves for garnish)
juice of 2 limes
4 oz. Hendrick's gin (or gin of choice)
1 oz. ginger simple syrup (see below)
Muddle 10 basil leaves with the lime juice in the bottom of a cocktail shaker. Fill with ice. Add the gin and the ginger simple syrup. Shake vigorously to incorporate and strain into chilled martini glasses. Garnish with the remaining basil leaves and serve.
ginger simple syrup
1 cup sugar
nugget of ginger, peeled and sliced (about the size of your thumb)
Combine 1 cup water and the sugar in a medium size saucepan. Boil for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally until the sugar is completely dissolved. Remove the mixture from the stove and add the ginger. Let the ginger steep until the liquid is cool. Strain through cheesecloth or a fine-mesh strainer into a clean glass jar. Refrigerate and use within 2 weeks.
A note on infusions...
An infusion is used with herbs or plants that dissolve readily in liquid to release their active ingredients. (Tea is the most common infusion.) An infusion is a way to release the flavor for use in a dessert or a cocktail; certain herbs can only be used if they are first infused, such as lavender and hibiscus flowers. Infusions can be made with ingredients such as chilies, garlic, and lemon. Infused oils and vinegars are a delicious way to add flavor without overpowering the main ingredient.
The amount of steeping time depends on what you're making; usually 15 to 30 minutes does the trick. The herb is then strained, and you're left with a flavorful liquid. You can make an infusion with almost any liquid: water, milk or cream, and oil are the most common. The ratio of herb to liquid is generally one-to-one, but it varies depending on the herb.