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Perfect Summer Sip: Blackberry Basil Julep

5 from 12 votes

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Blackberry Basil Julep - dark pink cocktail in a rocks glass with blackberry and basil garnish
Blackberry Basil Julep

Juleps are made for summer sipping, and this Blackberry Basil Julep celebrates all the best flavors of summer in one julep cup. It’s a favorite my friends ask for every Derby Day, and with frozen blackberries available year-round, it’s easy enough to make with some basil steeped in the syrup.

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What is a Julep?

The julep descends from an old Persian drink of sweetened rose water. It was appropriated by the Western world and became a term that in the Middle Ages sometimes referred to a drink that was sweetened with sugar and had medicinal qualities. 

Today, it’s largely associated with horse racing and Kentucky – specifically the Kentucky Derby. It’s a simple drink of bourbon, sugar and mint – all put together in an ice-filled metal cup. It’s fast, delicious, and best when made with great bourbon and the freshest of mint.

I make a classic Mint Julep with ½ oz simple syrup, 5 muddled mint leaves, 2 ounces of bourbon, and a metal julep cup filled with crushed ice. Don’t forget a fragrant fresh mint sprig and a straw tucked in close to the mint. The mint should tickle your nose with every sip.

For more information on the mint julep (including its history AND connection to the ice industry) see my article, How to Make a Classic Mint Julep. And if you want to make a riff off of the mint julep on your own, well, I’ve got an article for that here, too. It’s got all the information on the elements of the julep, how to tweak it and some stellar flavor combinations.

How to Make a Blackberry Basil Julep

Blackberry Basil Julep - dark pink cocktail in a rocks glass with blackberry and basil garnish
Blackberry Basil Julep

Although I’m posting this in April, to be fair, this is a constant at my house in June and July when both the blackberries and the basil are going nuts in the backyard. Nothing is sweeter than the smell of basil I can pick from the back porch. Or the last of the blackberries before the canes need to be trimmed back.

But making a blackberry julep is easy. I rely on a great blackberry basil syrup to add flavor to the drink, along with a splash of blackberry whiskey from Starlight Distillery. I just add the blackberry basil syrup, a bit of the blackberry whiskey, 5 or 6 large sweet basil leaves, and muddle very briefly in the mixing glass. 

Next, I add 2 oz of bourbon, ice and stir for about 20 seconds before I strain into a crushed ice-filled julep cup. No julep is complete without an herb garnish, so I tuck a healthy sprig of basil right next to the straw so it tickles the nose each time I take a sip.

I’m torn when I serve this one, to be honest. I’m a purist who loves julep cups because their frosty exterior is part of the mint julep experience. But this cocktail can be a gorgeous red/purple color, so it looks fabulous in a crushed ice-filled glass as well.

Recipe for the Blackberry Basil Syrup

The key to this recipe is the blackberry basil syrup. I generally make it from frozen blackberries as they’re not often in season in April when I start making my juleps, but it’s excellent with fresh berries as well.

Make a full batch of this syrup. It’s amazing in daiquiris, margaritas, mojitos, and summer sangrias. And in this Blackberry Basil Old Fasioned? Yes, please.

The recipe:

  • ​1.5 cup sugar
  • 3 cups frozen blackberries
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 cup loose basil leaves

Combine sugar, water, and berries in a saucepan and cook until the blackberries until thawed, soft, and very juicy. Once it starts to boil, reduce to a low simmer for 10 minutes. Add the basil leaves, turn off the heat and let the syrup cool completely. Strain the blackberries out, pressing on them to get as much juice out of them as possible. Let cool and store in a bottle in the fridge for one to two weeks. If you add a bit of vodka to it you’ll extend the shelf life considerably.  

Public Service Announcement: Save the strained out blackberries! Use them to top vanilla ice cream and it’ll taste like you’re eating blackberry cobbler! 

Blackberry Basil Julep - dark pink cocktail in a rocks glass with blackberry and basil garnish
Blackberry Basil Julep

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Blackberry Basil Julep - dark pink cocktail in a rocks glass with blackberry and basil garnish

Blackberry Basil Julep

Heather Wibbels
Let all the tastes of summer sweep you away in this Blackberry Basil Julep perfect for any warm afternoon. Its basil-infused blackberry simple syrup builds on the aromatic basil garnish to make this a julep for non-julep drinkers.
5 from 12 votes
Course Drinks
Cuisine Bourbon Cocktail
Servings 1

Ingredients
  

  • 1.5 oz bourbon
  • ½ oz blackberry basil syrup**
  • ½ oz Starlight blackberry flavored whiskey
  • 5 basil leaves
  • Garnish: fresh blackberries, basil

Instructions
 

  • Add ½ oz syrup, ½ oz blackberry whiskey and basil leaves to a mixing glass. Muddle lightly, add bourbon, ice and stir for 20 seconds, until well-chilled. Strain into a crushed ice-filled julep cup and garnish with a spanked sprig of basil and a few blackberries. Tuck a straw for sipping right next to the basil sprig.

Notes

** Blackberry Basil Syrup
  • 1.5 cup sugar
  • 3 cups frozen blackberries
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 cup loose basil leaves
Combine sugar, water, and berries in a saucepan and cook the blackberries until thawed, soft, and very juicy. Once it starts to boil, reduce to a low simmer for 10 minutes. Add the basil leaves, turn off the heat and let the syrup cool completely. Strain the blackberries out, pressing on them to get as much juice out of them as possible. Let cool and store in a bottle in the fridge for one to two weeks. If you add a bit of vodka to it you’ll extend the shelf life considerably.  
Keyword basil, blackberry, julep, mint julep,
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
By on April 16th, 2021

About Heather Wibbels

Heather Wibbels is a whiskey enthusiast (Executive Bourbon Steward, no less) with a passion for cocktails. She loves researching and designing cocktails, drinking cocktails, and teaching cocktails. Mostly whiskey cocktails, given her Kentucky location

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9 thoughts on “Perfect Summer Sip: Blackberry Basil Julep”

  1. 5 stars
    Is 10 am too early to make this?! It looks so good, and I can’t wait to make it for my Mother’s Day brunch!

    Reply

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