Say sayonara to summer with this basil lemonade cocktail

Sep 5, 2014 at 9:59 a.m. ET

Summer may be over "officially" but the weather says otherwise. As the final days of summer warmth tick by, I have been cheating on my usual happy-hour drink (the margarita) with this simple, refreshing cocktail: sunset basil lemonade.

Introduced to me by a friend who copied the recipe from a drink she enjoyed in Napa Valley, the ingredients are so simple I had to share.

Lemons and basil are always easy to find... either at your local farmers market or the supermarket. Pick up some honey too while you are there.

For easy fresh juice making I rely on my electric juicer. I'd be lying if I said I didn't buy it to make better cocktails but it's also great for fresh brunch OJ. Fresh juice makes all the difference in delish cocktail making.

As a natural and delicious sweetener I have been using honey in cocktails lately. Some honey is thinner than others but you can also make it more syrup like by adding a tablespoon or two of hot water to it (be sure to use immediately; thinned honey will not keep).

Using lemon vodka in this lemonade makes this drink extra smooth (and a bit dangerous; remember to sip!) There are so many yum lemon vodka choices... I prefer Ketel One Citroen but Stoli Citros and Absolut Citron are very good also.

Using the honey as sweetener requires giving this drink a good amount of shaking. As much as I love a beautiful cocktail shaker, I prefer to mix cocktails in a deli container. It's very practical for measuring and storage and for drink shaking. The 32-ounce size is perfect to mix three to four drinks and you can really get your shake on.

Once your drink is mixed and ready to serve, add the basil. (If you add too early it will darken) I have tried the basil in this cocktail a few ways, chopped finely or torn. Since it's not every day you have basil in a cocktail, I think the fine chop is preferred with most people. Mint would probably be good here too.

Garnish with thin lemon slices and a cute straw.

Sunset basil lemonade


  • 1.5 cups fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 6-12 fresh basil leaves
  • 3/4 cup lemon vodka
  • 1/4 cup of honey (I like wildflower honey)
  • 1-2 tablespoons of hot water


Using the hot water, thin honey to desired consistency and shake or whisk to combine. Add lemon juice and vodka to deli container and shake to mix. Just before serving, add chopped basil to taste and shake again. Pour over ice and add thinly sliced lemon and a cute straw for garnish. Report to patio, deck or front lawn and cheers to summer and sunset.

Have a fantastic September. Cheers! Xo Dani

Photo credit: Tamara Dragovic/iStock/360/Getty Images