I have a distinct childhood memory of biting into a juicy red apple, only to see a worm inside—actually, it was worse than that, because it was half of a worm. Not so Delicious, Red. The thing is, I don’t know if this memory is real. That’s the sticky point about being born with an overactive imagination. I could’ve just as easily seen it happen on TV and internalized it into my own fake—and terrifying—memory.
Either way, as a result of this possibly fictional experience, I have an irrational fear of biting directly into apples, peaches, pears, plums, etc. I have to cut them into slices or chunks before I’ll eat them.
Or, in today’s case, slice them up and throw them into a vat of syrupy sugar water with some basil and mash them up with a potato masher and let them steep themselves into a sugary sweet peachy basily oblivion.
That works, too.
Gin is my summertime drink (unless I’m feeling really hard core, in which case I reach for a good bourbon). Gin’s got a nice, light, floral, citrusy flavor that fits well with the hot months.
I usually do a basic gin and tonic—actually, gin and soda water, because have you seen how much sugar (usually HFCS) is in tonic water? No wonder it’s so good! I’d finally let myself splurge on some St. Germain a while back, so I’d started doing gin + St. Germain + soda water.
And then I found myself with two peaches on the iffy side of ripe and a shitload of basil from Joe’s garden and said to myself:
I’m making some effing simple syrup.
I’d never made simple syrup before. But how hard could it be, right? It’s got ‘simple’ right there in the name, right? And simple it was. I love when recipes are equal parts of ingredients—it kicks the math to the curb and lets you fully, truly, wholly, equally enjoy the process.
One part sugar, one part water. Albeit, this makes a particularly syrupy simple syrup. If you want to change up the ratios and add more water or less sugar, enjoy the ride (and the math, simple as it is). This ratio worked for me.
Kudos to Joe for suggesting I mash up the peaches. Although it makes for a much less flattering photo (which is why the pic here shows the peaches pre-mashification), it allows the peach flavor to really integrate into the syrup.
Basil, on the other hand, has no problem sharing itself. Basil is like that friend we all have who doesn’t know the meaning of TMI. Tells you all about her sordid sex life and bathroom habits. You could look at a basil leaf and taste it. I knew I wanted a big basil punch in this cocktail, so I took about five of the hand-sized basil leaves, chiffonaded them, and threw them in to tell the peaches about that hot date they had the night before.
I swear I saw the peaches blush.
You could definitely add some soda water to this if you wanted to; it’s definitely a sipper of a cocktail on its own—quite strong. Some days just call for a stiff (albeit fruity) drink.
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup water
- 4-5 large basil leaves, chiffonaded
- ½ med/large peach, sliced
- Gin (I used Tanqueray)
- Peach basil simple syrup (recipe above)
- Cocktail shaker
- In a medium-sized pot, heat the water and sugar over medium to medium-low heat.
- Stir gently until the sugar is dissolved.
- When it's just about to boil, remove from heat and add the peaches and basil.
- Use a potato masher or fork to mash the peaches. You don't have to make jam, but mash them enough to let the juices escape.
- Cover and let steep for 20-30 minutes, tasting occasionally until you like the flavor profile.
- Strain the mixture through a fine mesh sieve placed over a large, pressing the peaches and basil down to get all the juicy goodness out.
- Allow to cool before adding to your cocktail. Store in the refrigerator in a sealed jar or container.
- Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add equal parts syrup and gin, 1 - 2 ounces of each for each drink.
- Cover and shake the hell out of it.
- Strain into martini glasses if you're fancy, mugs if you're not.
- I used raw sugar because it's what we had on hand. It definitely gave it a darker flavor. I imagine white sugar would be sweeter and lighter.
- You want a good quality gin, since this isn't a complex cocktail and the gin flavor definitely stands out.
- If you try it at this 1:1 ratio and it's too ginny (ha! unintentional Harry Potter reference!), just add more simple syrup until it tastes right.
- Online research told me that simple syrup can last for up to a month in the refrigerator. I am currently working toward proving that theory myself. Store at your own risk (and delight!)