Drink of the Week: Ms. Abigail’s Lemon Basil Julep

July 21, 2011

Dear readers: you didn’t think I was going to invent a new cocktail every single week, did you? Indeed, part of the impetus behind this feature is to highlight the barfolk that keep this fine borough in its cups. You may have noticed that many of our spirit-ual friends have absconded this week to the Big Easy for Tales of the Cocktail, making it a perfect time to gather your ingredients and whip up a batch of something delicious in the comfort of your own home. Be sure to tip yourself.

This Drink of the Week is brought to us by Abigail Gullo, whom one finds behind the bar at Fort Defiance [365 Van Brunt St] and at lauded newcomer The Beagle [162 Ave A, Manhattan]. When I asked Abigail for a seasonally appropriate cocktail, she introduced me to her Lemon Basil Julep. It’s divine! Thanks Abigail!

Abigail writes:

In this hot summer heat wave, it’s good to look to the drinks that our Cocktail forefathers turned to before the days of air-conditioning.  You may be filled with visions of fine southern gentlemen and their dainty ladies sipping Juleps on the porch of their plantation, but this drink is rooted in pre-antebellum times and was far more global.  First of all, as a classification, the Julep does not have to have Bourbon in it, nor mint for that matter.  A Julep is all about the construction and perfect melding of sugar, spirit and ice. The Julep is one of the oldest cocktails and in the 1700’s was used for medicinal purposes with all sorts of herbal relief, not just Mint.

So let’s put a modern twist to this summer chiller and head to the Farmer’s Market for some seasonal herbs.  Lemon Basil, which is now in season, has a crisp, clean, antiseptic quality to it.  It is heartier than regular basil and not as sweet with a verbena-like tang.  With a touch of sweetness from the honey syrup and a peppery bite from the Rye Whiskey, this frosty sipper certainly seems like just what the doctor would order on a sweltering day.  The metal Julep cup is a must here to create that nice frost on the cup.  If you don’t have a silver Julep cup, the small part of a metal cocktail shaker will do in a pinch.

The Lemon Basil Julep

2 oz Rye Whiskey (I like Rittenhouse 100 proof)
1/2 oz Honey Syrup*
Large sprigs of Lemon Basil
Crushed or shaved ice


Gently muddle about 7-8 leaves of lemon basil in the bottom of your julep cup with the honey syrup.  Add the Rye and a scoop of crushed ice. Stir until a frost forms on the outside of the julep cup.  Top with a big mound of snowy crushed ice and a big sprig of Lemon Basil.  Insert a straw cut short so your face is in the basil every time you take a sip.  Sit back on the porch and sip the summer away.

*To make honey syrup, mix equal parts honey and hot water until the honey pours freely.

Flickr Photo by Cunning Stunt

About the Contributor

Abigail Deirdre Gullo first fell in bartending when she learned to make a Manhattan (sweet) for her beloved Grandfather.  Abigail started her blog, RyeGirl, in 2005 with the intention of having a forum for her experiments in mixing and to honor her favorite spirit.  After leaving her teaching job (a profession that will drive any single gal to drink) she devoted herself full time to the industry of fine spirits and cocktails. Abigail is a proud member of LUPEC NY (Ladies United for the Preservation of the Endangered Cocktail). Her Margarita won People’s Choice at the 2010 Tales of the Cocktail, and her cocktails have been featured in The New York Times and In The Mix magazine.  You can currently visit her behind the stick at Fort Defiance in Brooklyn, The Beagle in the East Village, behind the mic at Live Band Karaoke, or behind her computer screen blogging at

Got a hot cocktail that deserves to be our Drink of the Week? Let us know!

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