I’m pretty devoted to eating seasonally (well, you know, except for the citrus I keep stocked year-long – what, you’ve never seen a hypocrite before?), but occasionally I break down, so last week, when I made pho from scratch, I also bought some basil to go into it, since pho without basil makes me sad. I also had a lot of basil left over and, being temporarily out of gin (scandal!), I started casting around for new cocktails to make with it.
- 2 oz reposado tequila (I like Sauza Hornitos)
- 1 Tbsp simple syrup (or 2 sugar cubes)
- 5-10 basil leaves
In a sturdy tumbler, muddle basil leaves and simple syrup (if using sugar cubes, add a splash of water at this step). Add tequila, fill tumbler with ice, and stir well, until condensation collects on the glass.
The Brandy Smash, of course, with mint and brandy/cognac, is an ancestor of the still-popular (and still delicious) Mint Julep. Technically a Smash doesn’t require muddling, but I like to extract the maximum basil flavor into my drinks, and basil doesn’t give off as many vegetal off-flavors as mint does when it is brutalized.
The Sauza Hornitos Reposado that I like to use for this has a light, peach-y nose and that classic tequila weird-sulfur taste. The basil really plays right into it to make a drink that is lighter and more refreshing than a traditional Brandy Smash. It’s easy to down these a little more quickly than may actually be advisable, as my girlfriend and I put down four between us before dinner. And then, well, you know… the name’s just about right.