Adam added a fabulous drink to our cocktails-to-try list with this surprisingly refreshing beverage, inspired by an article from Food & Wine about Bourbon-based summer cocktails. The homemade lemon Oleo Saccharum, a complex name for lemon simple syrup, provided an intense depth of citrusy flavour to this delightful libation. The ginger beer and overtones of basil added yet another layer of flavour.
Oleo Saccharum means oil sugar. It can be made from any dry citrus peel combined with sugar. The process couldn’t be easier: simply combine the zest (minus the pith) with sugar and leave the combination for a few hours. Hey presto, a concentrated syrup that is a highly intense version of the fruit. The citrus oils lend a bit of weight and body to the cocktail with which it is mixed, something not readily achieved with just citrus juice, with or without plain simple syrup.
Lemon Basil Bourbon Cocktail
A delightfully refreshing lemon-bourbon cocktail mixed with ginger beer, and flavoured with a few leaves of fresh basil. Surprisingly delicious!
For the Oleo Saccharum (Lemon Simple Syrup)
- 4 lemons
- 1/4 c sugar
For the Cocktail
- 1 1/2 oz Bourbon
- 1/2 oz of lemon oleo saccharum
- 1/2 oz fresh lemon juice
- 3 + 1 basil leaves
- 2 oz ginger beer
- slice fresh lemon
Make the Oleo Saccharum (Lemon Simple Syrup)
- Using a vegetable peeler, zest the lemons into long, thin strips, avoiding the bitter white pith as much as possible. In a medium bowl, toss the lemon zest strips with the sugar until every piece of peel is thoroughly coated.
- Set aside for three hours or up to a day. The citrus oils will emerge from the peel and dissolve into the sugar, creating a syrup. Add a few tablespoons of hot water to dissolve any remaining bits of sugar. Strain the liquid into a small container, squeezing the peel to extract as much oil as possible. Keep for up to one week in the fridge.
Make the cocktail
- In a cocktail shaker with ice, combine the bourbon, lemon oleo saccharum, lemon juice and three basil leaves.
- Shake until well-chilled, then strain first through the shaker’s own strainer, and again through a fine mesh strainer into a tall glass with fresh ice.
- Top with two ounces of ginger beer and stir briefly. Garnish with a lemon wheel and a basil leaf, lightly bruised between your palms before adding to the drink. (to release the oils in the basil).
- Serving Size: 1
I’m sharing this post with Between Naps on the Porch.
In winter I’m always casting about for new lemon recipes, as the dwarf Meyer I planted 10 years ago begins to yield its bounty of the season. The first few years it produced small deep-yellow fruit, and lots of them. But as the tree matured, the fruits became bigger…and bigger…culminating in a crop of around 60 lemons of almost grapefuit size (!) a couple of years ago. (It must be channeling its orange DNA.) The neighbors, mailman, and any service people who stray into my web are not allowed to leave without a few each. The juice of one is enough to make a meringue pie, and the perfumed rind, sweet juice, and tidy growth habit makes the Meyer the only lemon I’d ever grow. Sometimes I see them in the supermarkets for $4/lb. There is already new fruit on the tree, swelling for winter harvest. Thanks for reminding me of rind syrup! Love those Juliska glasses.
You’ve got a built-in source for wonderful syrup, Beatrice. Lucky you. The Meyer lemon rind should be extra flavourful. Apparently, the syrup is terrific in lemonade and other non-alcoholic drinks, as well. It provides the same depth of flavour for a little more kick. I was thinking it might be a good base for sherbet or granita, too.