Note: This is one of a series of guest posts I’ll be hosting over the next few weeks to spice up Cocktail Thursday. Today’s guest is Priscilla Carruthers, AKA The Icebox Queen, who is a personal chef in Austin, Texas who specializes in healthy comfort food. She also writes an inspiring blog of the same name, which draws from her experiences as a chef as well as the local Austin food and wine scene and her “nomadic existence” all over Texas before settling in the capital city. I’m excited to test-drive a virgin spin on the delicious cocktail Priscilla has to offer us… and someday soon, the real thing. Those of us with basil overtaking our gardens this time of year can definitely appreciate this one!
I have the blackest of thumbs. Plants look at me and wilt. Nurseries close the blinds and turn out the lights when I pull into the parking lot. My dogs look at me with disdain when I try again, year after year, season after season, to grow another pot of herbs or a window garden with flowers. Even they can see the foreshadowing of my failure. People gift me with “easy to grow” plants, promising that, “No one can kill mint!,” and warning me to plant it in a pot to fight the spread. They shake their heads when they return to my house, realizing that plants taking over my garden would certainly beat the bare dirt and burnt up oregano that lives there now.
That is, until this time. This time, my mother didn’t just tell me what to do to have a garden, or send me home with a few plants. This time, she came with me to the nursery, and better yet, she came home with me and helped me plant them. And thanks to her, they live. They not only live, they thrive. Thanks to her fairy dusted green thumbs, I have more basil than I know what to do with. It’s starting to flower out there! I didn’t even know basil had flowers.
So this Basil Ginger Cocktail is dedicated to my mother’s verdant thumbs.
If you don’t have as lush a garden as I do, (she giggles), store-bought basil works just as well, and it only takes a little. If you’d like this to be an adult beverage, I’d highly recommend Dripping Springs Vodka, or Tito’s; otherwise more club soda in place of the vodka would taste just as fine on a hot Austin day.
- ½ cup sugar
- ½ cup water
- 2-inch piece of ginger, peeled and diced
- 2 or 3 fresh basil leaves
- 2 Tbsp fresh lime juice
- 1 Tbsp ginger syrup, or to taste
- 1 oz vodka
- club soda
- 1 lime wedge
- Bring water and sugar to a boil together in a small saucepan. Reduce heat and stir until sugar is dissolved.
- Add ginger, remove from heat, and let steep for at least 20 minutes.
- Once the syrup has the ginger strength you’d like, strain into a small jar or pitcher.
- In the bottle of a highball glass, muddle the basil with a splash of the lime juice and ginger syrup. (If you don’t have a dedicated muddler, try the other end of a wooden spoon.)
- Add the ice, vodka, lime, and syrup. Fill the rest of the glass with club soda.
- Give it a swirl and garnish with a lime wedge. Enjoy, and bask in a hot Texas summer with fresh herbs.