Her Name is Rio
Build in a 10-ounce collins glass filled with ice. Pour into a pint glass, then back into the collins glass to serve.
Garnish with lime wheel and sprig of basil.
After months of coverage about Rio’s trouble preparing for the Summer Olympics, watching the games unfold has been a relief. Sure, there have been some low points, like stray bullets piercing the roof of the equestrian center and the swimming pools’ inadvertent tribute to the Brazilian flag. Although we all hope Deep Woods Off was in the olympics swag bag, Rio is putting on one hell of a show, which might be the biggest underdog story of the games.
In honor of Rio and the 28th modern summer olympics, I’ve created a drink inspired by Brazil’s famous caipirinha but with the addition of basil, which is growing at gold medal speed in my front yard.
I start by making a basil limeade concentrate. I make 4 cups of simple syrup by bringing 2 cups each of sugar and water to a boil. Next, I cut 6 limes into fourths and throw them (skin and all) into my Vitamix. I add the juice of one additional lime and 1.25 cups (packed) of basil leaves. I pour in the simple syrup, then run the blender on 4 (a lower speed) for about 5 seconds. I want the limes and basil to be chopped, but not puréed. I let the mixture infuse for twenty minutes, then strain it into a pitcher, making about 4 cups of concentrate.
The result is intense and has a bitter finish fueled by the lime peels that gives the limeade complexity and ensures that it isn’t cloying.
I pour 3 ounces of concentrate over ice in a ten-ounce collins glass, add 2 ounces of Cuca Fresca Ouro cachaça, an aged Brazilian rum that has a soft vanilla nose, then top it off with 1 ounce of club soda. To mix and chill, I pour the ice and ingredients into a pint glass, then back into the collins glass to serve. I cap it off with a sprig of basil and an “olympic” lime wheel.
If your olympic party includes kids, teetotalers or designated drivers, make a batch of basil limeade soda by mixing equal parts concentrate and club soda. Anyone who wants a cocktail can add the cachaça themselves. I call that an award-winning performance!
Basil Limeade Concentrate recipe:
7 limes (reserve 1 for juice)
1.25 cups basil (packed)4 cups simple syrup
Cut 6 limes into fourths and throw them (skin and all) into a blender. Add the juice of the seventh lime, then the basil leaves. Pour in the simple syrup, and blend until coarsely chopped but not puréed. I ran my Vitamix on the four setting for about five seconds. Let the mixture infuse for twenty minutes, then strain it into a pitcher, making about 4 cups of concentrate.