Sometimes I really miss my previous life as a bartender. There’s something really fun about creating a delicious beverage. In fact, if you like to entertain, one of the best things you can do is have a few awesome cocktails in your back pocket that you can easily prepare. This Gin and Basil Cocktail (named a Rickshaw) is a wonderful, easy, and refreshing cocktail to kick off summer!
This Rickshaw Cocktail is a perfect cocktail for the beginning mixologist. The ingredients are simple and the flavors are awesome. It would be a perfect cocktail for the upcoming spring. I can imagine sitting out on a porch or something and just drinking pitchers of this stuff.
Where did the Rickshaw get its name?
There are lots of names for this kind of drink. It’s also called a Gin Basil Smash. I got the recipe and name from a really great cocktail book called MixShakeStir. If you are interested in learning more about cocktails, it’s a wonderful resource.
How to make Basil Simple Syrup
There’s really only three ingredients for this Rickshaw Cocktail, but the key is the simple syrup.
If there’s one tip I could give people that want to get into cocktail making, it’s not to spend a lot of money on booze. Just learn how to make good syrups. Once you learn how to infuse flavors into syrups, you can make wonderful drinks that you would pay a lot for in a bar or restaurant.
This syrup is about as easy as simple syrup gets. Just add equal parts sugar and water to a small pot and toss in a lot of fresh basil. I don’t even measure it actually. I just toss in a large handful.
Bring this to a simmer over medium heat and stir it regularly to melt the sugar. Once it has simmered for a few minutes and the basil leaves have wilted, it’s done.
Kill the heat and let it slowly cool down to room temperature. This will give it plenty of time to absorb some of that basil flavor.
Then just strain it to remove the basil leaves and you’ll be left with this delicious basil syrup.
I was shocked at how much flavor this syrup took on. It was like basil pesto in a jar! The stuff will keep fine for 2-3 weeks in the fridge if you keep it in an airtight container.
Equipment to make a good cocktail
If you are just beginning to make cocktails, I wouldn’t bother spending a bunch of money on equipment. Especially for this cocktail recipe, you can just stir ingredients together with some ice.
Mixing a Rickshaw Cocktail (Gin and basil)
There’s really only three ingredients to this Rickshaw Cocktail. Besides the basil syrup, it’s just gin and lime juice.
There’s no need to use a super-expensive gin for this. A medium-priced one will do the trick. Family Jones Gin is my go-to these days which is a local Denver gin that is nicely priced and has a good flavor (it’s a botanical gin as opposed to a dry gin).
For the lime juice, be sure to use freshly squeezed juice. The recipe calls for one ounce of juice which is about 1 small lime.
While you can kind of eyeball the measurements for this cocktail (2 parts gin – 1 part syrup – 1 part lime), I always recommend measuring cocktails. The flavors are a nice balance and too much of one thing can really throw off the drink.
So if you are planning on making cocktails a lot, it’s a good idea to pick up a jigger for measuring liquids.
One of my favorite parts of making cocktails is coming up with fun garnishes for the cocktails.
Any time I’m making a drink with gin, I always like to garnish it with cucumber for a mild version or a jalapeno slice for a spicy version. I just slice them very thin and line the glass with them.
Since there’s basil in the drink, I also picked out some very tiny basil leaves to throw in the cocktail.
Add all the ingredients to a cocktail shaker and shake shake shake!
Shake it for a good 20 seconds to make sure the drink is really chilled and don’t skimp on the ice!
Then strain the drink into your glass with fresh ice in it.
This Rickshaw Cocktail was super refreshing. If you don’t make it now, definitely bookmark it and try it in the spring.
Making a pitcher of this cocktail
The cool thing about this drink is that it’s easy enough to make a large pitcher of it. Then people could just pour their own!
When making a pitcher of this, I would multiple the base ingredients by six and then add that to a large pitcher with ice. Stir it well and people can serve themselves!
- 2 ounces gin
- 1 ounce basil simple syrup
- 1 ounce fresh lime juice, about 1 lime
- Jalapeno slices, or cucumber slices
- Basil leaves, garnish
Basil Simple Syrup:
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup sugar
- ½ cup fresh basil
For Basil Syrup:
- Combine ingredients in a small pot. Bring to a slight simmer, stirring to dissolve sugar.
- Simmer for 2 minutes. Kill the heat and let sit until cool.
- Strain and store in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks.
For rickshaw cocktail:
- Add ice to a small cocktail glass.
- Combine gin, basil syrup, and fresh squeezed lime juice in a shaker with lots of ice and shake for 20-30 seconds until very chilled.
- Strain into fresh ice and garnish with cucumber slices and small basil leaves.