The preparations are ready for mixing Chef Barker’s Basil Martini.

This summer, the cooler-than-normal, wetter-than-EVER weather allowed us to grow a bumper crop of basil in our garden. We’ve enjoyed divine Caprese salads and Margherita pizzas. We’ve blended homemade pesto and dried basil leaves for storage in spice jars. But, it’s this fresh basil martini that has us singing “O Sole Mio” as we linger longer on the porch. This is a simple recipe created by our friend, Chef Jason Barker (formerly of Houston’s Atlanta and now the Culinary Manager of Houston’s Metairie). Gather these few ingredients and mix this magical concoction yourself:


Fresh Basil

If you didn’t plant any basil this year, don’t stress! Those little potted plants are still available at garden centers and supermarkets. You could even pick up a small bundle of fresh basil in the produce section. You’ll need about 8 to 10 good leaves, torn before you drop them in the shaker.

Potted basil plants are still available all over town. Trader Joe’s had some beauties for just $3.99.

Gin or Vodka?

Chef Jason leans toward Bombay or Tanqueray Gin, feeling that Hendricks or Plymouth may be too subtle for this recipe. However, we’re vodka people. There seems to be, among discriminating mixologists, great debate as to which makes the most authentic martini. We do not usually debate too fiercely until after several martinis have been consumed, by which time we are no longer discriminating. So, 3 ounces of whatever you have works.

The great debate: Gin or Vodka for the perfect martini? Sample one of each! (Image:

Simple Syrup

In case you didn’t already know, that’s 2 parts sugar to 1 part water. Bring the water to a boil, then dissolve the sugar into it, stirring constantly. Once the sugar has dissolved thoroughly, remove from the heat (over-boiling thickens the mixture). Cool completely then bottle for use. (For this recipe, use 1/2 ounce of simple syrup.)

*In a pinch, make no-cook “bar syrup”: 1 part sugar  to 1 part water shaken until sugar dissolves. This is much thinner than the traditional version.



Add the juice of one-half lime. Don’t use the bottled stuff.  Fresh basil, good liquor, real lime. Capisce?

Looks like Bond voted for vodka, or maybe he was just courting Russian spies.
(Image: Eon Productions)

Shaken, Not Stirred …

Fill a cocktail shaker with ice and then add the martini ingredients to it.  Shake this, vigorously, for at least 30 seconds before straining into a chilled martini glass.  The extra shaking time breaks up the basil leaves and gives the drink a beautiful color.

Basil refreshment fit for 007 himself, served in Crate & Barrel “Dizzy” Cocktail Glass, $2.50 each.
Cin-Cin! Salute!


Fresh Basil Martini

Chef Jason Barker
Jason developed this recipe several years ago while working at the Rutherford Grill in Napa Valley. Crisp, refreshing, and absolutely lovely.
4.45 from 9 votes
Course Cocktail


  • 3 oz. Gin or Vodka
  • 1/2 Lime
  • 1/2 oz. Simple Syrup or to taste
  • 8-10 Fresh Basil Leaves torn


  • In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, combine each of the ingredients.
  • Shake vigorously for 30 seconds before straining into a chilled martini glass. (Don't skimp on the shaking time -- those extra seconds break up the basil leaves and give the drink a wonderful green color.)
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