Friday Cocktails: The Lemon Basil Blossom

Lemon Basil Blossom Cocktail

White rum combined with the juice of half a lemon and muddled lemon basil makes for a drink that's sure to please everyone: not too sweet and not too strong, it's a perfect beginning to any summer night. If you don't have lemon basil, a fragrant herb often used in Indonesian cookery, substitute conventional basil and a few drops of lemon oil. See the recipe for Lemon Basil Blossom Cocktail »Anna Stockwell

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I always associate basil, one of my favorite herbs, with good Italian food. A large, fragrant basil leaf set delicately on top of a ripe tomato with a hunk of fresh mozzarella could quite possibly be the most perfect summertime snack. But it turns out that Italian basil is just one of upwards of 60 varieties of basil, and lately I've been experimenting with new ways to use all of its expressions.

Though basil's clean flavor lends itself easily to savory uses, its aromatic nature pairs beautifully with sugar. Using lemon basil, a small-leafed variety with a pronounced citrus flavor, I made an infused simple syrup; to balance the herb's spiciness (and emphasize its lemon notes), I paired it with fresh lemon juice and zest. Mixed with a good white rum, which lends floral notes and just a bit of fire, it's a drink that's not too sweet and not too strong, a perfect beginning to any summer night.