For a nice, refreshing gin cocktail we need look no further back than 2008, Paris, for the original Gin Basil Smash recipe by Jörg Meyer. Originally called the Gin Pesto, it quickly spread in popularity, eventually becoming what we now know as the Gin Basil Smash, a wonderful sour with basil standing in where we’d usually find mint.
The gin in the original recipe is Hendrick’s, a relatively modern brand of fine quality with all of the dryness of a typical London dry gin, but with strong citrus and floral notes, both on the nose and palette. Who could ask for more? Any number of Portland gins could fit the bill, but we choose The Walter Collective both for its dryness, and its quality. Made with Italian Juniper (it says so right on the label) Walter gin is both dry and herbal, as you’d expect, with notes of citrus and a nice soft edge. We eschew the classic London dry here because they are usually sharply focused on both the juniper and the finish, but Walter, while being just as dry, leaves the razor edge behind for a softer, more rounded product, and we actually prefer it to the traditional imports. We’re not going cheap on the basil, either, so we only use what we’ve grown organically in our garden, but you could buy fresh basil at the market and get equally fine results. In our case, this also means adding the basil without muddling. Yes, muddling will make the drink green like pesto, but we think it adds bitterness we don’t want. Instead, we add all the ingredients to the shaker, with ice, and shake gently, or roll the ingredients until properly mixed, then strain over ice and garnish with a basil leaf or two. Then we sit in the garden and enjoy the flowers, because how else would you enjoy a garden fresh cocktail?
12 Basil leaves
2 oz The Walter Collective Gin
3/4 oz Lemon juice
1/2 oz Simple syrup
Shake all the ingredients gently, and strain into a rocks glass over ice.
Garnish with a basil leaf.
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