The addition of fresh, fragrant herbs elevate the nuances of food and can be just the thing to reinvigorate our old favourites. We’ve always been cheerleaders for fresh herbs and we derive a lot of pleasure finding fun expressions for them in cocktails. Familiarity with the ubiquitous mojito cocktail sets the tone for discovering the special notes of Thai basil (licorice and spice) and kaffir lime (bright and floral).
I love inventive cocktails but have rarely had more than a drink every couple of years. I had a particularly emotional response while reading Simran Sethi’s book Bread, Wine, Chocolate: The Slow Loss of the Foods We Love, which is about biodiversity and seeking quality – and this will certainly not be the last time I talk about this book, which really has transformed my life by putting into words so much of the lens with which I view the emotional aspects of the culinary arts and love. My husband and I decided to take up wine tasting, as she has some wonderful tasting wheels for the foods mentioned, which has allowed me to develop a better tolerance for alcohol, one that better matches my appreciation, at least. For the first time in many years, I had a cocktail, too, and it was made with rum, my least favourite spirit – but ah, how I love fresh herbs! I had three and it was glorious. Refreshing, invigorating and exciting, I am really happy to share it with you now.
6 fresh mint leaves, plus more for garnish
12 fresh Thai sweet basil leaves, stems included
4 fresh kaffir lime leaves, torn
1/4 teaspoon granulated sugar
1/2 lime, cut into two pieces, plus more for garnish
6 ounces/175 ml rum, whatever kind you like
1 can club soda
Fill two large glasses with ice. In a shaker, muddle the mint leaves, Thai basil, kaffir lime leaves, sugar and lime until all the sugar is dissolved and the limes have released their juices. Add the rum and ice and shake for a few seconds. Straining the ice, pour the shaken rum and herbs into the prepared glasses and top with club soda. Repeat as needed.