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Basil Lemonade

It’s funny how our bodies have their own special ways of telling us that they’ve had enough. Stress, dehydration, excitement, heat, and a few libations can be a recipe for disaster. My body decided that it had had enough around 2:30am last Monday morning, and just like that I’m on 10 days of antibiotics and have been told I must abstain from cocktails. This would be fine, except that it’s so hot out and lemon water isn’t much fun. Not to mention that it’s wedding season; have you ever been to a wedding where you didn’t have a single drink? Oye! But the more I think about it, it’s not actually the no drinking bit that bothers me; it’s the fact that non-alcoholic beverages are so boring. It doesn’t have to be this way!!

Enter basil lemonade. I was quite surprised how basily this lemonade really tasted and I mean that in the best way possible, because sometimes basil can be overpowering. Though I found the recipe a little too sweet for my liking, it definitely got better as the ice melted and diluted it a little. Overall I thought it was a very refreshing drink that I would make again. This lemonade would be nice to have on hand when having some people over, you could always add vodka or gin to it, but just by itself is an easy way to have something special for all your guests.

Note that Epicurious uses the basil lemon syrup for vodka basil gimlets, in case you’re looking for this recipe to do double duty. Also, the syrup can be made days in advance.

Basil Lemonade

Makes about 6 cups

2 cups basil lemon syrup (see below)

2 cups cold water

2 cups ice cubes

1 1/4 cups fresh lemon juice

Garnish: fresh basil sprigs; lemon zest strips

Stir together all ingredients in a large pitcher, then pour into tall glasses half filled with ice.

Lemonade, without ice, can be made 3 hours ahead and chilled, covered.

Basil Lemon Syrup

Makes about 5 cups

4 cups packed fresh basil sprigs, with stems

4 cups water

2 cups sugar

9 (4- by 1-inch) strips lemon zest

Very roughly chop the basil and stems. Bring all the ingredients to a boil in a medium saucepan, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Let stand at room temperature, covered, 1 hour, then transfer to an airtight container and chill until cold, about 1 hour. Strain syrup through a sieve into a bowl, pressing hard on and then discarding solids.

Syrup keeps, covered and chilled, 5 days.

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