the beverage cart

basil juleps

August 2, 2012

I currently have a yard teeming with mint. Exploding with mint if you will. On a mid-summer’s eve it only seems right to concoct a classic mid-summer’s eve beverage utilizing such a prolific herb. Right?

The crux of the situation is I also happened to go crazy at the Farmer’s Market by my office in Downtown Boston–like a kid at some kind of a store. Edible flowers, purple bell peppers, weird mustardy salad greens, purple squash… come to think of it I bought a lot of purple produce including some beautiful and pungent purple basil.

Initially I was thinking of using the 14,760 varieties of mint I have in my yard to make a classic Mint Julep, but at the last minute decided to experiment and make a Basil Julep. My friends, this is most excellent.

I typically stay away from anything amber in color during the warm months (red wine, bourbon, scotch) I know it’s stupid, but perhaps it has something to do with my Midwestern roots. On the other hand, it does mark the seasons kind of nicely, i.e. by the end of March I am really looking forward to a summer of gin and tonics not to mention many under-rated white varietals. (Why do some wine snobs insist on panning anything white?) Having said all of this, I do find occasional work-arounds to my seasonal palette…

A classic Mint Julep consists of bourbon, sugar, mint and water–basically a bourbon mojito.

For my Basil Julep I decided to stick with a classic Bourbon (Maker’s Mark) but switched up the sugar for agave nectar and soda water for water. (And, as I’ve stated basil in place of mint.) On the way to the package store (that’s Mass speak for liquor store–“packie” if you’re in Southie), I just had this feeling about our local Goodwill. I walked in and found a quartet of mid-century lo-ball glasses perfectly suited for my beverage. It was meant to be.

 You will need:

(per drink)

  • 1 1/2 oz bourbon of your liking
  • 2 T of chopped fresh basil (I used purple)
  • 1 T of agave nectar (add more to taste)
  • soda water
  • ice
  • mid-century lo-ball glasses for charm
  • basil leaf for garnish

In a lo-ball glass I added chopped basil and then muddled using a wood muddler. You don’t want to break the glass, the idea is to break up the chopped basil enough to release the plant’s fragrance. Next add agave nectar followed by the bourbon. I used a swizzle stick to stir up the basil, agave and bourbon before adding the ice and then finally topping with soda water. And last, garnish with a sprig of basil.

Let me know what you think! I for one loved this recipe and plan on making it the next time I make it to a polo match. Yee haw!


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  • Avatar
    Reply Ren August 4, 2012 at 6:17 am

    Your photographs are stunning and I’m completely in awe. (The drink sounds tasty too.)

    • Avatar
      Reply davidtornado August 4, 2012 at 4:26 pm

      Thank you!

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