Basil is a wonderfully green, slightly-sweet culinary herb. It brings an excellent depth of flavor to cocktails, and is an especially nice accompaniment to citrus and berry flavors.
When we use basil, it’s usually sweet Genovese basil, the kind you find in Italian food. But we like the Thai and lemon varieties in cocktails, too! Thai basil has more of an anise profile, so it goes well alongside absinthe, pastis, and aromatic bitters. Lemon basil really does have a wonderful lemony scent, so using it in drinks with fresh lemon juice really amps up the flavor.
Best of all, it’s tremendously easy to grow inside – give it ample sunlight and prune it often, and it’ll grow like a weed. As it grows, be sure to pick off the flowers, to keep it from bolting and producing a bitter flavor.
When using basil as a garnish, give it a quick slap between your palms to bruise it slightly. This breaks the outer cell structure of the leaves, releasing the delicate aroma compounds without tearing the leaf. Tuck it into the edge of the glass, and the fantastic smell fills the nose while you drink, magnifying the flavors.
Also Known As
- Thai basil
- Lemon basil
- American basil
- Sweet basil
- Genovese basil
- Holy basil