Oh guys, we need to talk about my new favourite little summer treat – it’s a strawberry and basil vodka, and it’s all sorts of delicious. Like, ‘holy crap, it’s summer in a bottle’ delicious.
Strawberries are pretty much the hallmark of summer, aren’t they? Up there with picnics, festivals, accidental sunburn (wear suncream, kids) and rain-soaked bank holidays. I’m being flippant, but strawberries are pretty much the most iconic food of summer and it seemed like time to make them into something that will last a little longer than they have left of their season. Well, that was the theory. After some friends and I started drinking it the other day there isn’t a whole lot left.
I’ve also had a basil plant on my kitchen windowsill all summer – miraculously it has survived, despite my utter lack of gardening skills – and whilst it’s mainly been used for pesto and salads, I wanted to try something different before it meets its inevitable untimely demise.
Strawberry and basil are a brilliant flavour match. And whilst there’s undoubtedly some scientific explanation for this (chemical compounds, it’s always some kind of chemical compound), I’m prepared just to take the evidence of tastebuds and run with it.
As well as combining two of the most vibrantly coloured produce of summer, this strawberry and basil vodka has a brilliant balance to it. The strawberries bring sweetness, the basil brings a more savoury note and you get a drink that despite its somewhat lurid colour is just the right level of sweet and not sickly.
How do you serve this summery treat? My preference is with lots of ice, tonic and a garnish of basil leaves, but you have lots of options:
- Straight over ice, as a liqueur
- As a long drink, with tonic or lemonade, depending on your sweetness demands
- In a whole range of brilliant cocktails from martinis to to sex on the beach
This recipe is my go-to for flavouring vodkas and it’s easy to scale to whatever size you want, but my default is 500ml. The hardest part is leaving it and not succumbing to the temptation to taste it before it’s ready! I tend to use a standard vodka like Smirnoff to flavour – if you use anything too good it will kill the flavour, and paint stripper-levels of vodka will always taste of paint stripper, no matter what you flavour it with.
- 500ml vodka
- 150g strawberries
- 5-7 basil leaves
- 2 tbsp caster sugar
Take a clean, sterilised clip-top jar and to it add about 100ml of vodka and the sugar. Seal and shake to dissolve most of the sugar.
Hull and quarter your strawberries (or half if they are little), add them into the jar. Pour the remaining vodka and the basil leaves in. Gently shake to mix everything together. Put in a cool, dark place.
Leave the jar for two weeks, gently swirling every two-three days.
Filter out the vodka – I use a kitchen paper-lined sieve, but coffee filters also work well – and put into sterilised bottles.
Used in this recipe: