A Not So Classic But Oh So Summery Sweet Basil Gimlet Cocktail

Basil Gimlet: The classic lime Gimlet is a pale yellowish-green gin cocktail of near-perfect proportions. It’s sweet and tart with a slight herbal quality that comes from good gin. It is typically served shaken with ice and strained into a stemmed cocktail glass. Most of the “old-school” versions are made with Rose’s lime juice which is a super sweet ingredient with an interesting history all its own. But I like them less sweet and usually use fresh lime juice sweetened to taste with a bit of simple syrup.

The classic version of this cocktail got its name from a small tool that was once used on board British naval ships to tap into spirits barrels. It was standard for the sailors who spent many months at sea to mix their rations of gin with the mandatory daily dosage of lime juice as a way fight scurvy. I have an entire post dedicated to the classic Gimlet. It can be read by CLICKING Here.

Sweet Basil Gimlet

But today I am feeling a bit creative. So I am transforming the classic Gimlet with a bit of basil simple syrup. It makes this version into a super summery cocktail, ideal for poolside entertaining in some warm weather location like say, Palm Springs. Which is where I am and what I happen to be doing at the moment.


steeping basil for simple syrupIf you have Plymouth gin I recommend it in this case. It is a bit earthier and has just the right perfume. It works very nicely with the aromatic sweet basil. But, please don’t let my persnicketiness stop you from trying this because any gin will work well. In fact, in a pinch or if you are gin adverse– vodka is an acceptable substitution. Because this is not intended to be a serious gin lover’s libation. The aromatic quality of gin certainly augments the style and substance of this cocktail, but it’s the sweet basil that really defines the flavor palate.

So I have chosen to make this a bit sweeter in fact. It is also a whole lot less alcoholic than the classic Gimlet. I have even decided to serve it poured over a lot of ice. This is not a serious cocktail. It’s meant to be lite and frivolous and every bit as friendly as the sweet summer sunshine.

Sweet Basil Gimlet Serves 8 CLICK here for a printable recipe

  • 1⁄2 c sugar
  • 1 bunch basil, chopped, plus more for garnish
  • 1 c freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 2 c Plymouth gin

Mr. Sippity Sup drinks up!In a small saucepan combine sugar with 1 cup water. Cook over medium-high heat until the sugar dissolves, about 5 minutes. Turn off the heat.

Add the chopped basil to a heatproof bowl then pour the syrup over the leaves to steep about 30 minutes. Strain the mixture, discarding the basil. Let cool completely.

Add the basil simple syrup, gin and lime juice to a medium-sized pitcher. Pour some of the cocktail into an ice-filled old-fashioned glass. Garnish with a sprig of basil. Serve.


Greg Henry

Sippity Sup