Introduction: How to Make a Basil Lemongrass Vodka Tonic

Last night at Pier 9 we had an amazing Thai-inspired potluck organized by Purin & Vanessa. I don't know much about cooking Thai food so I thought I might contribute a Thai-inspired cocktail. I searched through some recipes but didn't find anything I was satisfied with. They were all a bit sweet or fruity for my taste. So I gathered the bits I did like and decided to create my own. This is the result!

Step 1: Gather Ingredients

Here's the list:

  • basil (Thai basil might be better - I just couldn't get my hands on it)
  • lemongrass (fresh is best)
  • limes
  • vodka
  • tonic water (get the good stuff - it makes a difference!)
  • sugar

Step 2: Prepare Your Ingredients

First wash your limes, basil, and lemongrass.

Pick the basil leaves off their stems. Put aside some big pretty ones to use for garnish later - one per glass. The rest will be used for simple syrup.

Cut off the ends of the lemongrass and then remove the hard outer layer. Cut into smaller lengths to expose more surface area for the steeping.

Put your vodka and tonic water in the fridge to chill. Make sure you have ice in your freezer.

Step 3: Make Simple Syrup

Simple syrup is really easy to make and to make it fancy all you have to do is toss in some herbs!

The standard recipe is 1 part sugar, two parts water. I used 1 1/2 cups sugar with 3 cups water.

Put your sugar and water into a sauce pan. Bring to a boil then reduce heat, constantly stirring to allow sugar to dissolve. Add lemongrass and basil and continue stirring. Once the sugar is completely dissolved turn off heat. Let sit for a few minutes.

Once the mixture has cooled a bit, transfer to another container that is not hot so that it can cool further. Let steep for at least 2 hours or as long as overnight in the fridge. When that's done use a funnel and a strainer to transfer it to a nice bottle. Refrigerate until you are ready to use it.

Step 4: Create Your Cocktails

Cut your limes. Cut one or two in half the long way, then cut each half into 3 wedges. Notch each wedge in the middle so it can sit on the edge of a glass as a garnish. Cut the remaining limes in half the short way. These will be used for juice.

Lay out your simple syrup, vodka, tonic, glasses, ice, limes, and basil leaves.

Add ice to all glasses. Add 1 1/4 oz of vodka and 1/3 oz of the basil lemongrass simple syrup. Use a lime half to squeeze lime juice into glasses. One half is usually good for 3 or 4 glasses. Top off all glasses with tonic water and stir.

Garnish with an artfully placed basil leaf along the edge of the glass and a lime slice on the rim.

Step 5: Enjoy!

The result is a quick, cool, refreshing cocktail. It also tastes great without vodka if you'd prefer something non-alcoholic. If you're making these for a group you could do them in a batch or get your jigger out and perform your bad-ass batch bartending skills.

The amounts and ingredients are all to taste. If you come up with any neat variations please post them below!