The first time I photographed this recipe almost 5 years ago, I placed the glasses on the tile bathroom floor– yes, bathroom— because it was my third recipe ever I didn’t have a good place to shoot. These are my confessions.
Because of that, James now jokingly refers to these Strawberry Basil Spiked Lemonade cocktails as “the toilet drinks,” which obviously isn’t ideal when we have company over and I’m serving up a pitcher. And while I doubt I’ll ever be able to shake the nickname, I decided to finally take new photos– ones that were taken far away from any tile floors– because I’ve at least gotta try.
I mean, I make it enough anyway. What’s a few more minutes spent shooting some photos before serving?
This is my go-to drink for serving to friends throughout the warm weather months, because it’s always a hit with a large group of people. Some friends are difficult to make drinks for because everyone has the one type of alcohol they won’t touch– one friend doesn’t like the taste of rum, another won’t drink tequila, and so on– but the vodka in this cocktail is masked by the strawberry-basil syrup and the freshly squeezed lemons. It’s refreshing and fruity and doesn’t taste boozy. Of course, if you’d like more alcohol flavor, feel free to sub in rum or gin. This lemonade is versatile.
In fact, while I normally serve this Strawberry Basil Spiked Lemonade spiked, it’s amazing as an alcohol-free drink as well. If you’re serving both drinkers and non-drinkers, before mixing in the vodka, you can separate out some of the lemonade and simply add extra water to it to make a non-alcoholic refreshment. Just make sure you label them accordingly so you don’t get the two mixed up!
But back to that strawberry-basil syrup for a second. This is hands-down the best way to make flavored lemonade. Some people simply muddle or puree the added ingredients and stir in the sugar, but by boiling the strawberries, fresh basil, sugar, and some water together, you can ensure you’ll wind up with an evenly flavored drink without seeds, undissolved grains of sugar, or torn up pieces of basil being sucked up your straw. We’ve all had drinks like that, right?
I made this batch of Strawberry Basil Spiked Lemonade for a game night last weekend and my friends were obsessed with it. I have never had a cocktail receive so many compliments (and I’m known to mix up some pretty damn good drinks)– but there’s just something special about this recipe. People literally cheered when they realized I had a whole pitcher full to share, not just the few glasses I initially brought out. I’m serious, they cheered.
And James shouted “Toilet drinks for everyone!” …Sigh.
But you know what? No one seemed to mind. Because no matter what you decide to call these, there’s no denying that they’re awesome. Just make sure you’ve got more than you think you need, because I learned my lesson: this Strawberry Basil Spiked Lemonade goes FAST.
Oh and the other lesson is to never take a picture on a tile floor again. Pretty sure I can manage that.
- 1 1/2-2 cups strawberry basil simple syrup (recipe below)
- 1 1/2 cups lemon juice (about 10 lemons)
- 5 cups water
- 2 cups vodka
- Sliced strawberries, lemon wheels, and basil leaves to serve
For the strawberry basil simple syrup:
- 1 pound strawberries, chopped
- 1 small bunch fresh basil
- 2 cups sugar
- 2 cup waters
- Add 5 cups water, 2 cups vodka, and 1 1/2 cups lemon juice in a pitcher and refrigerate.
- Add all of the “strawberry basil simple syrup” ingredients to a medium sauce pan and bring the mixture to a boil.
- Reduce heat to a simmer, and let it simmer for about 20 minutes. Stir occasionally with a wooden spoon, making sure to break up the strawberries to release their juice and bruise the basil to release its oils.
- Strain the simple syrup to remove all chunks and pieces of strawberries and basil.
- Add up to 2 cups strawberry basil simple syrup to the lemonade mixture. Adjust cocktail portions to taste. Fill the remainder of the pitcher with ice and additional sliced strawberries, lemon wheels, and basil leaves, if desired Chill before serving.
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