The fruity Martini trend may be on its way out, so try something a little more sophisticated and savory: the basil Martini.
How to Make a Basil Martini
It has been said that this Martini was the signature drink of E.B. White, author of Charlotte's Web. While this drink certainly won't make you smarter, it will provide a thrill for your taste buds if you've tired of standard Martinis.
The process of making a basil Martini is fairly simple. This drink requires a few extra ingredients, but the mixing process is the same. You may use vodka or gin, but note that the "herb-y" flavor of basil is said to complement gin the best. Add a couple of ounces of your spirit of choice, a dash of dry vermouth and three or four fresh basil leaves.
Combine everything with ice in a Martini shaker, shake it vigorously, and then strain the drink into a Martini glass. As an alternative to vermouth, try a splash each of lemon juice and simple syrup instead for a sweeter flavor. For a stronger basil flavor, muddle the leaves with the gin or vodka prior to shaking. You should garnish this cocktail with, of course, a basil leaf or two.
Growing Your Own Basil
It is very important to use fresh basil leaves to make the best basil Martini. You can buy basil-infused vodka, but the taste is just not the same. Consider growing your own basil plant since it is so easy to care for. Purchase a small plant from a garden center, pot it and place it on a sunny window ledge in your kitchen. Check the soil every few days and water, as needed. Aside from using the leaves for making Martinis, you can also use them for garnishing pizzas, caprese salads and other Italian dishes.
Once you've mastered the basic basil Martini recipe, experiment with these variations according to your tastes:
- Muddle cucumber with the basil for a lighter, more refreshing version.
- If you like your cocktails tart, use citrus flavored vodka and add a splash of lime juice or fresh grapefruit juice.
- For a fruity version, muddle fresh strawberries with the basil and and a little simple syrup. Watermelon works too.
- Try adding a few mint leaves for an extra bite.
- Add fresh pineapple juice for additional tartness and sweetness combined.
- Give your drink a chocolate touch. Boil a chunk of dark chocolate with basil leaves and shake with vodka and ice.
Where to Order Basil Martinis
You can't walk into just any bar and order a basil Martini, since basil isn't common among bar stock. A restaurant bar is a better bet, especially one that serves cuisine that uses a lot of the herbs. Here are a few destinations around the country that where you can order versions of this savory cocktail:
- Strawberry Basil Martini at Fountainebleau Hotel's Hakkasan in Miami Beach
- Cucumber Basil Martini at Martini Park in Chicago
Whether you want to make your own Martini or simply order one to try, now you know a little more about this rather unique cocktail.