We’re going to wrap up this week’s series of quarantine whiskey smashes with a fabulous flavor combination topped with sparkling wine – the Strawberry Basil Smash. That’s right, it’s an excuse to open up a bottle of bubbly and top a perfectly excellent cocktail with a bit of bubbles.
If you’ve just joined the quarantine smash series, we’ve had four this week: the Whiskey Smash, Blackberry Sage Smash, Pineapple Tiki Smash, and the Coffee Cherry Smash. And we’ve had three other series of quarantine cocktails as well: Quarantine Old Fashioneds ( Breakfast Wakey Wakey, Smoke and Spice, Home School, Taco Truck, and Campari/Bitter Lessons ), Quarantine Manhattans (Balanced Perfection (Perfect Manhattan), Coffee Manhattan, Chocolate Ginger Manhattan, French Quarter Manhattan, and the Caramel Orange Manhattan.), and Quarantine Whiskey Sours (Blackberry Sunset, Whiskey Tiki, Blue Mood Orange, Ya Basic, and Peach Rosemary).
I’ve been wanting to use basil all week, even though it’s not technically in season, because I love the combination of strawberries and basil. There’s something about the sweet tartness of strawberries that blends so beautifully with the delicate herbaceousness of basil. Mint is a wonderful substitution here, but more savory herbs you may have to experiment with. Because we’re adding smidge of champagne to the top of the cocktail, you’ll need an herb that doesn’t fight the aroma of the sparkling wine float on the top.
I’ll admit the sparkling wine doesn’t show up great in the pictures as it stopped bubbling quickly after I poured it, but it lends a slightly sweet and sour but bubbly mouthfeel to the cocktail, elevating it into a perfect brunch tipple.
Now, if you don’t have the champagne or sparkling wine, this cocktail still seems far too easy to drink and you don’t have to make enough cocktails to finish out the whole bottle. Which might be hard if there’s only an adult or two in the house. Or, you can use the extra champagne to make champagne simple syrup, which is how I ended up with some for this cocktail.
In addition, if you don’t have fresh strawberries, defrosted frozen ones will work just as well. Cherries and pineapple can also be used as they match well with basil, too. I didn’t try mango, but I’m certain that flavor combination would also be out of this world.
For spirits, this is one that I do think excels with a whiskey – specifically a rye if you have it, but a bourbon will work, too. Rum and basil aren’t a match I love, but if you prefer tiki drinks, you probably know if a rum that marries well with basil for this cocktail. Drop me a line if you do, because I’d love to find one that works. Vodka will work, and some gins will make a gorgeous cocktail, but you’ll need to test out the gins you have as the aromatics in gin differ so wildly and you’ll need one that plays well with both basil and champagne.
For this cocktail you can absolutely choose to serve it fancy – strained, in a coupe glass, topped with champagne with minimalist garnish. It is designed as a brunch cocktail. However, you can also do a dump pour into a large rocks glass and still top with some bubbly. As you can see from the photos, I tried both and they are both winners.
I won’t keep you from your weekend smash, so here’s the recipe:
Strawberry Basil Smash – Smashed by Noon
- 3 medium fresh strawberries (or frozen and thawed)
- ¾ oz champagne simple syrup**
- ½ lemon quartered
- 10 basil leaves
- 2 oz rye
- 2-4 oz sparking wine
- Garnish: fresh basil and strawberries
- Put the strawberries, lemon and simple syrup in the bottom of your shaking tin and muddle until the juice from both the strawberries and lemons has been expressed from the fruit and is combined with the simple syrup. Roughly tear the basil leaves, drop them in the shaker and muddle again, but not too roughly. Basil’s a delicate herb.
- Next add the rye, fill with ice and shake vigorously until the shaker is so cold it’s hard to keep going.
- If you’re serving it in a coupe or martini glass, double strain into your chilled cocktail glass and top with sparkling wine. If you’re serving it on the rocks, feel free to dump the whole shaker in a large rocks or highball glass and top with sparkling wine. Garnish for both is a bit of basil and strawberry.