I had a purple basil plant back in our Kentucky garden. I love the deep purple color it adds to a landscape that is otherwise all green. When I found one here earlier this spring, I decided to give it a go.
After our first hot spell, I thought it had bit the dust. The strong sun here tends to turn the leaves a brownish gray, not the purple I was hoping for. But a couple weeks ago, it started coming back a bit. I’ve upped the watering and it now has new purple leaves peeking out.
Next year I think I’ll try it in more shade, but for now, I have enough purple basil for garnishes and cocktails.
With two other ingredients on hand, I decided to try a lighter, more refreshing version of a Bloody Mary. Something you might want to drink on a hot afternoon instead of only during the cooler temperatures of brunch.
The couple who keeps our pugs when we travel have a small farm. Often when I pick up the pugs, they surprise us with tomatoes that they are much more successful at growing than I am. I came home with a bag of beautiful medium-sized tomatoes last week. I’m not sure of the variety, but they remind me a lot of the Fourth of July hybrid I used to buy in Kentucky.
A little while back I received a bottle of American Harvest Organic Vodka to try. The brand relaunched this year. It’s a vodka distilled from organic winter wheat that comes from a single family farm. A touch of agave nectar gives it a light sweetness that I thought would make it great for a more savory cocktail.
This drink has many of the flavors of a Bloody Mary, but in a much lighter form. Instead of using a tomato juice, or prepping the juice in an electric juicer, I juiced the tomatoes by hand with one of those handheld citrus juicers. Then I strained out the seeds before adding it to the cocktail shaker. It results in a light liquid with tomato flavor.
Finally, the purple basil. It adds the nice herbal touch that enhances the flavor of the tomato juice and gives the drink a savory twist. It’s also a pretty garnish for the top of the drink.
The combination of the fresh tomatoes and herb with a little tangy lemon and the vodka made the best cocktail. In the heat of the summer, I would go for this drink over a traditional Bloody Mary every time.
Tomato Purple Basil Vodka Cooler
Makes 1 cocktail
What you’ll need:
1 slice lemon
3 to 4 purple basil leaves
3 ounces fresh squeezed tomato juice (about 4 small to medium tomatoes)
2 ounces vodka
Splash of hot sauce
Purple basil to garnish
How to make it:
Add the lemon to a cocktail shaker. Tear the basil and add it with the lemon. Muddle the two together, extracting some lemon juice and crushing the basil.
Strain the tomato juice to remove seeds and add it to the cocktail shaker. Add the vodka and hot sauce, and then add a handful of ice. Cover and shake until well chilled.
Fill a short cocktail glass with ice, strain the cocktail into the glass, and garnish with basil.