Written by Ellis Perry
The idea of mixing basil and vodka isn’t easy to swallow. But two of Shanghai’s best and most beloved bars (the two Citizen bars) have long been earning deserved accolades for their signature cocktail: the Basil Ginger Drop.
The initial and very pleasant tickle of the cocktail’s sweetness quickly gives way to a mild-tempered smoothness, and to a flavor which is neither sweet, nor bitter, nor sour. It is creamy, round, and viscous in the way we imagine a health-drink made with skimmed-milk and pureed kale would be. That’s not appealing imagery, and we’re sorry about that. But the fact is, this is an odd drink, and the initial nose does hit one as forcefully as would a snifter filled to the rim with a soupy mush made of fresh grass clippings, cilantro, and honey. But once the first sip is down the hatch, there’s nothing but love. And not the kind of love one feels in that love (or hate) Laphroaig or Marmite way. The Basil Drop is loveable because vodka is loveable, basil is winsome, and some genius found a way to make them work together.
Drink one well-made one, and you’ll feel the love too.
How to Make the Basil Ginger Drop
100ml / 3.4oz vodka
60ml / 2oz lemon juice
5mm / 0.2in of a knob of ginger – peeled and finely grated
4 basil sprigs – leaves only
40ml / 1.4oz sugar syrup* or 30ml / 1oz agave nectar
6 ice cubes
1tbsp caster sugar
1 lemon wedge
2 small basil sprigs
- Take 2 martini glasses and moisten their rim with the lemon wedge.
- Put the sugar on a small plate and gently roll the rim of the glass in it in order to cover the rim in sugar.
- Add the vodka, lemon juice, grated ginger, basil leaves and sugar syrup/agave nectar to your blender and blend until the basil has dissolved.
- Add the ice cubes to your mixture and blend until the ice cubes have dissolved.
- Pour into the sugar-rimmed martini glasses. Decorate with a basil sprig
* To make sugar syrup simply bring 100g / 0.5 cup of sugar and 100ml / 3.4oz of water to a boil until the sugar has dissolved. Put aside to cool. This will give you approximately 150ml / 5oz of sugar syrup.
Recipes and image from Francoise La Prune, which deserves a browse