Jalapeno Basil Cocktail Starter

 Since moving into our new house, we have been anxious to get out on the back deck.  With the arrival of sunshine this past weekend, we were able to spend plenty of time gardening and getting things ready for summer.  The warm weather inspired this refreshing cocktail starter- it’s bright and the perfect mix of sweet, sour and spicy.  When I saw this month’s Recipe Redux theme, “Cocktails and Mocktails for May Celebrations” I knew I wanted to create something that could double as a cocktail or a mocktail.  The best part- you can keep the starter in your fridge and easily create a single serving cocktail by adding your choice of liquor and sparkling water.  Enjoy the sunshine!

Ingredients

  • zest of 3 limes
  • 1/2 cup packed basil leaves, torn
  • 2 jalapeños, sliced (remove the seeds if you are looking for flavor with minimal spice)
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lime juice

Method

1. In a small saucepan, mix together sugar and water.  Bring to a boil and then lower to a simmer.

2. Add lime zest, basil leaves and jalapeños.  Simmer for 5 minutes.

3. Remove mixture from heat and allow to cool in fridge for a minimum of 2 hours, optimally overnight for full infusion.  You can test the mixture for taste to determine if the spice and flavor suits your taste.

4. Strain mixture with a fine sieve, discarding residual basil and jalapeño.

5. Mix infused syrup with lime juice.  Store in fridge until ready to use.

Recommended combination:

1 1/2 oz. of starter + 2 oz. good gin; top with sparkling water and garnish with lime wedges and basil

Leave out the gin for a delicious non-alcoholic spritzer.  This starter would also be a nice for a margarita by adding tequila and additional lime juice.

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Lauren is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist who finds relaxation amongst pots, pans and good ingredients. From an early age, Lauren grew up cooking alongside her mother, Angela. After finishing a Bachelor of Science degree, Lauren realized she wanted to integrate her love for food and cooking into her career and went back to school to become a Registered Dietitian.

After completing a primarily pediatric internship in Vancouver, Canada, Lauren’s personal life led her to the Southern United States. Lauren is now soaking up the cultural and culinary flavors of New Orleans in her time off from practicing in a local pediatric clinic. Lauren has a special interest for educating children and adolescents on not only eating healthy, but also learning the skills to prepare healthy food. Prior to becoming a dietitian, Lauren led a children’s after school cooking camp and continues to enjoy educating children and their parents in her current work setting.

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