From Your Own Backyard:
Is there is a plant/culinary herb that, hands down, evokes the feeling of summer?
Well, yes, definitely Basil, a member of the Mint family.
In the WSJ, Sarah Karnasiewicz writes of her “favorite boozy usage for a backyard bounty” It, she admits, is “stolen straight from the Italians: a bottle of homemade liquore al basilico,” aka basilcello.
Simply add a heap of lightly bruised basil leaves to a jarful of vodka, seal tightly, give it a few shakes, pop it in the fridge. The result, a day or two later: a bracing peridot spirit electrified with the essence of the herb. Strain off the spent leaves and stir in a cupful of simple syrup to balance the flavors and cut the heat, and you have a garden-in-a-glass tipple perfect for sipping.
Chill it and enjoy as an aperitivo or digestivo—or, as is my habit these days, mix it with lemonade or seltzer (or both) in an easy-drinking, low-alcohol highball that tastes like an Italian escape.
- 1 (750 ml) bottle high-proof vodka or grain alcohol
- 4 cups basil leaves, wiped clean with a damp paper towel
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- ¾ cup water
- In a large, sealable jar, combine vodka and basil. Use a muddler or wooden spoon to gently muddle basil until very lightly bruised, 10-15 seconds. Seal jar, shake and refrigerate at least 24 hours or up to 1 week.
- Make simple syrup: In a saucepan over medium heat, combine sugar and water. Simmer, stirring, until sugar dissolves. Let cool completely.
- Discard basil leaves and pour basilcello into a clean glass jar or bottle along with simple syrup (or a light fruit juice). Seal and shake to combine. Store in freezer.
Which gets one wondering, how would it combine with mint and strawberries or cucumber? Seems like endless possibilities….Enjoy summer!