I know. It sounds like Averna amore, but that’s what’s been going on around here. I have been drinking a lot of this Sicilian amaro lately. I am accustomed to consuming Averna neat (undiluted, at room temperature, no ice) or straight up (with ice.) Then I came across a cocktail called a Blackberry Smash, a bracing mix of Meyer lemon juice, ginger beer, orange-flavored vodka, muddled blackberries and Averna.
The dark fruity flavor of the blackberries and the citrus married beautifully with the Averna, but Bart found it a touch too astringent. So I got busy and fiddled a little, figuring some simple syrup might take the edge off. Then it dawned on me that fresh basil would complement the herbaceous notes of the Amaro Averna. So I added a bit of basil simple syrup to sweeten the drink and cut down on the perceived astringency, and this baby was born.
I have been making this drink with Eureka lemons. If you’ve got Meyer lemons on hand, they’d also be wonderful. Don’t skimp on the orange-flavored vodka. Use a premium brand, like Grey Goose.
Cheers! For those of you who have been following my remodel, check out the shots of our progress at the bottom of this article. And trust me, with a project of this magnitude, a cocktail helps. For more on Averna, click here.
Averna e More
1/3 cup blackberries, plus berries to garnish
1 oz. Amaro Averna
1 oz. orange-flavored vodka
½ oz. fresh lemon juice
1 oz. basil simple syrup (recipe follows)
2 ounces (or more) Fever-Tree ginger beer
basil sprig to garnish
Fill a rocks glass ¾ full with ice cubes. Drop cup of blackberries into a cocktail shaker and muddle well. Pour Averna, vodka, lemon juice, basil simple syrup, and a few ice cubes into the shaker and shake for 30 seconds. Strain into the rocks glass. Top with ginger beer, and garnish with a few berries and a sprig of basil. Serve at once.
Basil Simple Syrup
Simple syrup is quick and easy to make and has many different uses in the kitchen. It can be plain, just sugar and water, or it can be flavored with anything from anise to vanilla, or as here, basil. Plain, it is the ideal sweetener for cold drinks – no need to worry about your sugar not dissolving. Mix it with spirits to moisten layers of cake. A simple rule of thumb for flavoring simple syrup is if you are using herbs, such as mint or basil, add them at the beginning right along with the sugar and water. If you are adding spirits, do so after you remove the finished syrup from the flame. Generously flavored with basil, this syrup is wonderful over fresh fruit or as a sweetening agent for lemonade or mixed drinks.
2 cups basil leaves
2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup water
Place all ingredients in medium saucepan. Heat over medium high until sugar has dissolved and mixture has come to a gentle simmer, stirring occasionally. Mixture will be completely clear when sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat. Cool, strain and store in refrigerator up to 5 days.
Click here for another use for basil simple syrup.
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I have no affiliation with any product, manufacturer, or site mentioned in this article.