The Gin Basil Smash Is The Bright Cocktail You Need In Deep Winter — Here’s Our Recipe

The world of cocktails is constantly in flux. Classics make triumphant returns to rotations — sometimes centuries after their demise — while modern hits disappear into the ether. Right now, complicated and delicious is a big theme. “Mixology” is back, folks! That means drinks like the Gin Basil Smash are topping lists of most popular cocktail orders worldwide right now.

The Gin Basil Smash is a modern classic that has dominated the scene since 2008. The drink hails from Hamburg, Germany’s cocktail scene in the mid-aughts, and was originally called the “Gin Pesto.” As the drink blew up on the global stage, it became the Gin Basil Smash because, well, the drink just had fresh basil in it and not also parmesan, pine nuts, and olive oil. The “pesto” bit was unnecessarily confusing.

Today, the drink is as popular as ever. It’s so freaking refreshing that it just won’t go away. It works as a summer sipper while eating pizza al fresco as well as an après-ski sipper with a bright and almost funky spiced vibe, thanks to that basil. It’s versatile, is what we’re getting at.

Let’s dive in!

Also Read: The Top Five Cocktail Recipes of the Last Six Months

Gin Basil Smash

Gin Basil Smash
Zach Johnston


  • 2 oz. London dry gin
  • 0.75 oz. fresh lemon juice
  • 0.25 oz. simple syrup
  • 2 large basil sprigs
  • Ice
  • Extra fresh basil for garnish

This is a very straightforward shopping list. I’m using classic Bombay London Dry Gin which is available at any liquor store for about $18. The rest is easily gettable. Just make sure you’re using good fresh basil.

Gin Basil Smash
Zach Johnston

What You’ll Need:

  • Rocks glass (prechilled)
  • Cocktail shaker
  • Cocktail strainer
  • Fine mesh strainer
  • Muddler
  • Jigger
  • Hand juicer
  • Paring knife
Gin Basil Smash
Zach Johnston


  • Add the basil and simple syrup to the bottom of a cocktail shaker. Use the muddler to bruise the basil leaves and break up the stems a tad. Add the gin, lemon juice, and a large handful of ice to the shaker. Affix the lid and then shake vigorously for about 20 seconds.
  • Add a large ice cube to the rocks glass. Double strain the cocktail into the rocks glass and then garnish with a fresh basil sprig. Serve.

Bottom Line:

Gin Basil Smash
Zach Johnston

This is a pretty freaking delicious cocktail. The basil gets this pop of sharp spice that’s almost like a spearmint-meets-nasturtium vibe. It’s a nice bright spice that’s light and oily enough to give the drink a silky mouthfeel.

The sweet syrup and lemon add to the brightness with a hint of lemonade that’s cut with juniper and a hint of clove thanks to the gin. It all comes together for an amazing easy sipper that delivers a punch of flavor with every sip. In the winter, it wakes your senses back up. The brightness and sharpness of the spicy basil widens your eyes and gets you ready for the coming spring and the vibrancy found therein.

Lastly, if you’re eating a freshly fired pizza topped with fresh basil, this is the perfect pairing. Just sayin’!