Farewell to Basil – Lemon Basil Martinis

by | Sep 21, 2016

Fall is trying to sneak into the south. Summer is fighting to keep hold, but a few nights I have felt Fall gaining a slight lead. For those of us who live in this part of the country we “enjoy” about 6 months of warm to sweltering, summer-like temperatures, so Fall is a welcome change! Although we all love Summer, most of us agree that Summer needs to share!

One of my favorite summer cocktails is a Lemon Basil Martini. I grow basil in a halved whiskey barrel in my backyard. Basil is simple to grow and maintain throughout the months of warm weather. It will, however, die quickly after our first cold nights. Before then I will replant some of the plants and bring them inside to a sunny spot or I will harvest all the leaves and make pesto to freeze. (See Shirl’s post about her recent pesto making.)

Recipes for Lemon Basil Martinis have slight variations but all are very similar. My husband is the bartender in our house and, like me with cooking, he usually doesn’t write down his “recipes,” he just eyeballs it or uses a jigger to get the ratios correct. I asked him nicely to try to measure how he makes my Lemon Basil Martinis so that I could share it with all of you. Here is what he told me:

Lemon Basil Martinis

1 cup Citron Vodka (we use Grey Goose) or unflavored Vodka (we use Tito’s)

3 oz (¼ of 12 oz container) Lemonade Concentrate (we use Minute Maid)

3 T Simple Syrup

2 Lemons, juiced

1 bunch of Basil, muddled in simple syrup

Add to shaker with ice. Shake until well blended. Add to a martini glass or other thin-rimmed glass.

Makes about 4 smaller-sized martinis or 2 larger-sized martinis with some leftover to add to refresh the drink.

Jen's Lemon Basil Martinis

We adapted this recipe over time from one given to us by a friend. Our friend’s version was meant to make a large amount…calling for a whole bottle of vodka! The number of martinis it made was suited to serving many drinks in a night at a local restaurant that has since gone out of business. But, years later, people still talk about their Basil Martins! Luckily my friend is a friend of the restaurateur…yay for awesome friends who share good recipes! We now enjoy this delicious cocktail in useable amounts for a welcome cocktail at small gatherings instead making enough to serve a restaurant for the dinner rush.

Jen's Lemon Basil Martini 3


I am Judy and David’s daughter and Mel and Tillie’s and Fred and Luella’s granddaughter. I am the beaches and coast, lakes and steams and mountains of California. California is in my heart and soul, where I grew up, and it will always feel like home. My family and my oldest, cherished friends are there and dotted around the West. But, I am also downtown Chicago where I walked to work in knee-high snow and the shores of Lake Michigan where my husband and I strolled pulling my son behind us in his red wagon so he could learn to pump a swing and build sandcastles at the playground on our local beach.Read More

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