The Basil Smash is considered a modern classic - a cocktail that was only invented recently (in the context of hundreds of years of mixed drinks) and has become a phenomenon.
Its alluring neon-green tint might draw you in, but it's the fresh aromatic kick that will have you coming back time and again. Besides, the addition of fresh basil means that this drink is basically a vegetable, and certainly a welcome way to get one of your five-a-day.
This is a cocktail that suits a sweltering summer day, the sort that leaves you trailing patterns into the condensation on the side of your glass and daydreaming about plunging headfirst into a cool lake.
What Gin works best in a Basil Smash?
Basil, despite all its bold and pungent flavour actually allows for so much nuance to come through in the end cocktail. Because of this, we advise using either Hendrick’s Gin (as we understand it, this was the gin Meyer first used for the Basil Smash) or a gin that finds a careful balance between all its botanicals.
Juniper forward cabinet essentials that tend to work so well in other cocktails are great, but the basil offers an opportunity to be creative and lends itself better to contemporary gins. In particular, those with a big grapefruit twang or that use fresh herbs.
If you don't muddle the basil you’ll have a fresher-tasting drink. It’s subjective as to whether this makes it better or not as the flavours are different and often less intense, but worth trying it out for yourself to find out!
While it's a Gin cocktail and in our book substituting gin for anything else is sacrilege - even we will admit that a using a smoky Mezcal instead is quite spectacular…
An abridged, inebriated history:
The Basil Smash was conceived by Jörg Meyer of the Lion in Hamburg in 2008. The drink quickly became a smash hit (pun intended), even winning “Best New Cocktail” at the 2008 Tales of the Cocktail Spirited Awards. There are two variants to the drink – one using green and one using red basil.