Basil stands in for the mint in this contemporary version of the Southern classic. Julep fans and Kentucky Derby–goers alike will appreciate this makeover, which mixes the pungent basil and tart lime with a top-shelf bourbon. The recipe makes enough simple syrup for about 10 to 12 drinks, so invite some friends over for a summer celebration.
For the basil simple syrup:
1 cup (8 fl. oz./250 ml) water
1 cup (8 oz./250 g) sugar
15 fresh basil leaves, coarsely chopped
For the julep:
9 fresh basil leaves
1 1/2 oz. (45 ml) bourbon
1 oz. (30 ml) fresh lime juice
1 lime wedge
1.To make the basil simple syrup, in a small saucepan over medium-high heat, bring the water to a simmer. Add the sugar and chopped basil and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Remove from the heat and let cool. Strain the syrup through a fine-mesh sieve into a clean container, cover and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.
2. In a rocks glass, muddle 8 of the basil leaves and 1 oz. (30 ml) of the basil simple syrup. Add the bourbon and lime juice, pack the glass tightly with crushed ice, and stir until the glass is frosted on the outside. Top with more crushed ice to form a dome. Garnish with the remaining basil leaf and the lime wedge. Makes 1 drink.
For updates of our favorite classic cocktails infused with today’s fresh ingredients, check out our book Cocktails: Modern Favorites to Make at Home, by the cooks of the Williams Sonoma Test Kitchen.