It’s not often we talk about vodka, unless we’re making fun of it. But
we’ve finally come across a cocktail that doesn’t make us scoff at its
lack of originality. The Right Touch from Evan Louis @evanmlouis and Has
Mahmood @banhas of Coin-Op Sacramento is all that is ahem, right, with
vodka cocktails. The threefold balancing act between sweet strawberry,
acidic lemon, and herbaceous basil is culminated in the tiniest hint of
absinthe on the top of the drink.
While we normally make fun of vodka for being nothing more than a blank
palette (the tofu of the spirits world, if you will), offering nothing to
the cocktail, in this instance there isn’t another liquor that suits this
drink better. Rum would make it too sweet, gin would make it too
herbaceous, and whiskey would just be ridiculous. Actually, whiskey would
play nicely, but would run the risk of drowning out the subtle nuances of
the interactions between the strawberries and the basil. Also… Absinthe.
In certain circumstances whiskey and absinthe are really good friends
(see: Sazerac), but the openness of vodka in this cocktail allows the
absinthe to showcase its nose and add just the right touch of depth. Yeah,
we said it. Again. Right Touch. Deal with it.
The Right Touch
3/4 oz Strawberry-Basil Syrup*
3/4 oz Lemon Juice
2 oz Vodka
3-4 Basil leaves muddled
A touch of Absinthe
Muddle the basil leaves in the bottom of a double rocks glass (or other
appropriate cocktail glass), and let them hang out for a minute. Add the
strawberry-basil syrup, lemon juice, and vodka to your mixing tins. Toss
in a small scoop of crushed ice and whip the ingredients… hard. You’re
gonna do a “dirty dump” at this point, which means you don’t strain
anything… just go ahead and pour it in the glass on top of the muddled
basil. It will all kind of mix together, and the basil will suspend about
halfway up the glass. Add another scoop or so of crushed ice and another
basil leaf for garnish. Finish the whole crazy thing off with two
spritzes of absinthe. Yes, its legal.
*Strawberry-Basil Syrup: Note, this is for a large batch. If you only want
to make a little bit, you¹re gonna have to adjust accordingly. But
properly refrigerated, this syrup will last you a month or more. So go
ahead and get nuts with it.
1 qt. halved strawberries
1 qt. sugar
1 qt. water
5 basil leaves
Bring water and strawberries to a boil until berries are soft enough to
tear by stirring, add sugar, simmer for fifteen minutes, strain and enjoy.