Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Raspberry Basil Collins

After a hiatus so long I'm surprised Blogger still remembers me, it seems a re-inaugural toast is in order. To borrow last year's sentiment: why haven't I been posting? I've certainly been drinking.

A Tom Collins is a basic gin cocktail, containing gin + lemon + simple syrup + soda water. It's a perfect template to use as a springboard, which I do frequently. And it has the added bonus of letting you call the resulting drink "a (Something) Collins," which conjures up a speakeasy boozy vibe, like tough Old New York, rather than a girly fruity cocktail (which, in actuality, most of my variations are).

This current variation was borne of necessity and internet inspiration. Well, perhaps not so much necessity as laziness. I often play a game I call "Iron Pantry Chef," the subtitle of which is "What can I make to eat/drink without leaving my home to purchase additional ingredients?" The raspberry bushes in our backyard had a few handfuls of fruit, the basil finally had enough leaves to pick a bunch without killing the thing, and the cucumber vine had one lone cucumber. I had gin (and gin alone), lemon, and fizzy water. The results made for a perfect refreshing summer drink. I tend towards cocktails that are sweet and citrusy, and while this drink has both elements, the herbs and cucumber keep it from being cloying, giving a nice change of cocktail pace.

Raspberry Basil Collins
makes ~4 drinks

Basil Syrup:
1 large handful basil leaves (about 1/4 cup), chopped or roughly torn
2/3 cup sugar
2/3 cup water
zest of 1 lemon, removed with a peeler

Raspberry puree:
1/3 cup raspberries (or more, if your bushes are more fruitful than ours)
juice of 1 lemon
splash of Basil Syrup

1/2 cucumber, thinly sliced (optional, but provides a nice clean taste, one that saves it from too much sweetness)
Soda Water

To Make the Basil Syrup:

Toss the basil leaves, sugar, water, and lemon zest in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, then remove from heat and allow to infuse for half an hour (if you've got the time -- and longer won't hurt). Strain, discarding the leaves and peel and reserving the syrup.

To Make The Raspberry Puree:

Place the raspberries in a blender with the lemon juice, and enough of the syrup to allow for smooth processing (generally 2-4 Tbsp should be fine). Puree until it's blitzed into a smooth sauce. If you don't fancy seeds in your beverage, pass the puree through a strainer to remove them, scraping it with a spoon to make sure all of the puree passes through.

To Assemble Your Raspberry Basil Collins:

In a glass, mix together:

1 shot gin
1 shot raspberry puree
3/4 shot basil syrup

Top this mixture with an equal amount of soda water, toss in a few slices of cucumber, and taste, adjusting to your drinking preference. Drink languorously, with plenty of ice.

Needless to say, the variations are infinite.