Her assignment this time around? Liquid Dreams. In her own words: "Cocktails, aperitifs, milkshakes, smoothies or lassi. Add a splash of alcohol or keep it pure. Shake it, stir it or blend it - just mix up a refreshing drink. Serve it hot or cold but I need it in a glass."
Perhaps you noticed the basil leaves in the photo above and wondered where the heck I was headed with this? Well, I'll tell you. This Liquid Dreams event was a happy coincidence for me because lately I've laying on the couch after work, staring up at the basil plant on the windowsill -- it's big and getting bigger all the time. Now that I've managed to nurse it into a healthy state, I needed a reason to pluck those buttery-soft green leaves.
Luckily, epicurious obliged me with this recipe for Basil Vodka Gimlets from the July issue of Gourmet. Perfect timing to join in the Monthly Mingle. And the gimlets hit the spot just as perfectly as I cooked dinner tonight.
You boil a pot full of basil and lemon zest and water and sugar to make a basil-spiked simple sugar:
Let it cool and then mix it with nearly-equal parts basil lemon syrup, vodka, and lemon juice. The results are like really naughty lemonade.
So good, I polished off one small glass and quickly myself up another (larger) glass!
Here are the recipes. I stuck my vodka and my glass in the freezer so that they would be extra-cold when I brought all the ingredients together. I divided the gimlet recipe in three to make one extra tall glass for myself... At least I think I divided by three -- after one and a half gimlets, my memory's a little foggy. You're on your own when it comes to dividing and subdividing the following recipes. I do distinctly remember making a half recipe of the syrup and I still have plenty leftover to make more gimlets later. And by later I mean tomorrow. Right after work.
Basil Vodka Gimlets
Makes 6 drinks
1 c basil lemon syrup (recipe follows)
3/4 c vodka
3/4 c freshly-squeezed lemon juice
1 c ice cubes
Garnish: fresh basil sprigs and lemon zest strips
Stir together all ingredients in a pitcher until cold, then strain into 8 - 10 ounce glass (such as Old-Fashioned) half-filled with ice.
Basil Lemon Syrup
Makes about 5 cups
4 c packed fresh basil sprigs
4 c water
2 cup sugar
9 (4- by 1-inch) strips lemon zest
Bring all ingredients to a boil in a medium saucepan, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Let stand at room temperature, covered, for 1 hour. Transfer to an airtight container and chill until cold, about 1 hour. Strain syrup through a sieve into a bowl, pressing hard on and then discarding the solids.
Syrup keeps, covered and chilled, for 5 days.