The art of the summer cocktail…something light, refreshing, icy cool, perfect for a summer bbq or a breezy night out on the porch (or stoop as the case may be), and preferably in a pitcher so friends can help themselves! I personally love something that has a tart-sweetness to it like a mojito, caipirinha, or a spiked lime rickey, which was the inspiration for this drink.
I’ve talked a bit about yuzu in the past, but, basically, it’s a Japanese citrus that has an interesting flavor mix of lime, grapefruit and mandarin with a musky and slightly salty quality to it. It’s rarely found fresh here, but a bottle of yuzu juice from the Asian market will last forever (a few dashes go a long way). I love it in salad dressings, anywhere I might use lemon, and particularly in cocktails like this one.
A lime rickey is pretty simple – usually it’s made from fresh lime juice, carbonated water, and sometimes simple syrup to sweeten. My take here replaces lime juice with lemon and yuzu juices, includes club soda, and is spiked with vodka. The very simple syrup gets infused with fresh basil leaves, which complements the yuzu incredibly. This drink goes down a bit too easy if you know what I mean (what vodka?), but truly it’s my perfect summer drink – flavorful and totally refreshing. Enjoy!
Serves 8 to 10
1 ¼ cups water
1 ¼ cups sugar
10 to 12 leaves of basil
¾ cup lemon juice
1 ½ tbsp yuzu juice
2 ¾ cups club soda
1 ¼ cup vodka
First, make the basil-infused simple syrup. In a saucepan, heat the water, sugar and basil stirring until water comes up to a boil. Remove from the heat, cover, and let steep for 15 minutes. Strain and cool.
In a large pitcher, mix together the remaining ingredients with the cooled simple syrup. It’s best to let it chill for a few hours for the flavors to come together, but it’s still great right away.
Serve the yuzu-basil rickey over ice.