Whenever I have a cocktail, I tend to lean towards refreshing drinks, usually with gin. But while visiting friends in New York, we went to a cocktail bar that used caraway vodka in a drink. (Caraway has an anise flavor to it and is frequently used in baking. It is commonly used in rye bread and most versions of Irish soda bread.) So it adds a really nice earthy flavor to any drink. I decided to make my own to use in refreshing cocktails. I also used it to make a version of my favorite cocktail: the east side, which is essentially a gimlet. (Every drink seems to just be a variation of yet another drink).
Ingredients to make caraway vodka:
2 cups vodka (I used a cucumber vodka for more flavor)
2 tablespoons caraway seeds
Ingredients to make cocktail:
2 oz caraway vodka
1 oz lemon juice
1/2 oz simple syrup
1 basil leaf, chopped
Making your own flavored vodka is really easy. Just take a jar and fill it with 2 cups vodka and 2 tablespoons caraway seeds. Allow to sit for at least a week. Strain and store for future use. I used cucumber vodka as a base which made a pretty awesome flavor combination.
A traditional east side uses cucumber and mint muddled together then mixed with gin, simple syrup, and lime and topped off with club soda. My version is just as refreshing, but uses some of summer’s other favorite fresh ingredients, lemon juice and basil, paired with my homemade caraway-cucumber vodka.
To make, add ice to a cocktail shaker and add the caraway vodka, lemon juice, simple syrup, chopped basil, and ice. Shake and strain into a glass. Top with club soda. If desired, garnish with a cucumber or a lemon twist.
You can also serve the drink on the rocks, which I prefer (the ice keeps it nice and cool to keep it super refreshing).
If you are a fan of more citrus over sweetness, omit the simple syrup. You can further customize the drink by muddling the basil before adding it to the drink to release more flavor into the cocktail.
Everything about this drink screams summer. I wish I had made the vodka earlier in the summer so I could have had this all season. Sigh. Instead, it will just have to be my way to keep a little summer going on all year long!