This quick and easy basil lemonade uses fresh basil from the garden to make a refreshing summer drink. Add a little bourbon or gin to make a cocktail!
Summer has arrived in central Appalachia.
Here, summer means the trees are full and green, the fields are full of wildflowers and happy bees, and the birds are chirping.
It also means the air is thick, heavy, humid, and hot.
It's the perfect time of year to drink an icy-cold glass of lemonade.
As much as I love plain, unflavored lemonade, I also adore adding herbal flavors to my lemonade.
This summer, as I watched my basil plants growing larger and larger, I wondered about using basil simple syrup to sweeten a batch of lemonade. Follow along with my Instagram stories if you want to watch my garden grow too!
Happily, I tried making basil lemonade and it was delicious!
This basil lemonade is easy and delicious, and is perfect for hot summer days.
What Kind of Basil Should I Use?
The best basil for this recipe is fresh basil growing in your garden. It also works perfectly with frozen basil.
For the most mellow basil flavoring, use sweet basil or the (slightly stronger) Genovese basil.
If you've got spicier basil growing in your garden, adding a little bit of spicy globe basil, purple basil, or Thai basil can make the flavor more interesting.
Keep in mind that using all spicy basil will make a spicier lemonade!
How to Make Basil Lemonade
Start by making a basil-infused simple syrup.
Add a cup of sugar, a cup of water, and (approximately) a cup of basil to a pot. Heat it until the water begins to boil, and then remove it from the heat.
Let the basil steep in the hot sugar water for about 15 minutes, and then strain out the basil.
How Many Lemons Do I Need for Lemonade?
You want enough lemons to make about 1 cup of lemon juice.
That should be about 6 to 8 lemons, depending on how juicy the lemons are.
I recommend using a citrus reamer or juicer instead of attempting to squeeze the lemons by hand.
I use a simple wooden citrus reamer, and then strain the juice through a mesh sieve to get rid of the pulp.
Finally, add lemon juice and water to a pitcher.
Stir in half the syrup, taste the lemonade, and add more syrup if you want it sweeter.
Serve this basil lemonade in an icy cold glass and enjoy these long, hot summer days.
Basil Simple Syrup:
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup fresh basil, loosely packed + rinsed
- 6-8 lemons (approx. 1 cup fresh lemon juice), plus 1 more for garnish (sliced and deseeded)
- 4 cups water
- optional: handful fresh basil leaves
Optional Hard Lemonade Add-Ins:
- 9-12 oz bourbon, gin, or vodka, depending on desired alcohol content (optionally, add 1-½ to 2 oz alcohol per 8 oz of lemonade)
- Make simple syrup by adding sugar, basil and 1 cup water to a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, and then remove from heat. Set syrup aside and allow it to cool.
- Meanwhile, juice lemons until you have about 1 cup of juice. Pour juice into pitcher, and add 4 cups of cold water.
- Strain the basil out of the syrup. Add half the cooled syrup, and taste the lemonade. Add the remaining syrup if desired.Tip: Store any leftover syrup in a sealed container in the fridge for up to a month.
- Serve in a pitcher, or in glasses filled with ice. Garnish glasses with fresh mint.If serving hard, add liquor to pitcher, or add to individual glasses as serving.