This Strawberry Basil Vodka Cocktail is amazingly simple to prepare and the perfect refreshing sip for summer! Bursting with fresh strawberries, sweet basil and subtle vodka, this fruity cocktail is ideal for both relaxing and entertaining! Plus, this recipe pulls double duty and can easily transform into a mocktail!
Are you looking for more delicious cocktail recipes?! Try these crowd-favorites: Rum Runner Cocktail, Tequila Kiwi Cocktail, Rum Blue Island Cocktail, Spicy Mango Margarita and Blackberry Peach Elderflower Cocktail!
Update: This post was originally published in May 2017. I made updates to the post below to include more information about strawberry cocktails.
Hi, friends! Can you believe memorial day and the unofficial start of summer is only four days away?! Four!! As in just 96 hours! Or, merely 5,760 minutes! I mean, whoa!
I don’t know about you, but I plan on savoring every last drop of summer and basking in all the seasons warmth and glory! Plus, I’m looking forward to enjoying all the summer barbecues, along with ALL the fruity, fresh cocktails life has to offer! Because, you simply can’t do summer without a refreshing cocktail… or three!
Strawberry basil vodka cocktail: overview
The liquid embodiment of summer is happening right here!
This strawberry mixed drink is sweet, tart, herbaceous, fruit forward and bursting with fresh flavors! With prominent notes of juicy strawberries and aromatic basil; an effervescent touch of soda, a splash of boozy vodka, plus a sweet sugar-coated rim, this cocktail is a seriously smooth sipper! It’s incredibly refreshing and perfect for relaxing or serving at summer soirées, pool parties, picnics and barbecues!
Want to win at life and get the party started this summer!? Skip the stress and craft a big batch of strawberry basil cocktails! Pour it into a pitcher, grab a few straws, and toast to summer in sassy strawberry spritzer style, my friends!
Why you will love this recipe
- Easy to find ingredients! This strawberry cocktail is made with simple to find ingredients, along with summer fresh strawberries and basil!
- Economical! Summer fresh berries are inexpensive and this cocktail takes advantage of summers bounty!
- Strawberry-forward flavor! Minimal ingredients and the subtle flavor of vodka really allows the sweet strawberries and tender basil to really shine!
- Well balanced! The difference between a good and great cocktail is a delicate balance of flavors! This strawberry refresher has all 4 components that make a cocktail great – spirits, sugar, water and bitters/acid!
- Fresh or frozen berries! Craving a sip of summer in the winter!? No worries, you can easily make this cocktail using frozen strawberries!
- Effervescent and refreshing! This cocktail tastes like summertime in a glass – it’s incredibly refreshing and smooth without being overly sweet!
- Make it a mocktail! If cocktails aren’t your thing, you can easily transform this mixed drink into a strawberry mocktail!
- Perfect for batching! It’s incredibly simple to make a big batch of this beautiful strawberry basil cocktail for easy and elegant summer entertaining!
What is a strawberry cocktail?
A strawberry cocktail is an alcoholic mixed drink, which relies heavily on strawberries for a fruit forward taste. A fruit cocktail can include one or more spirits mixed with either fresh muddled strawberries, strawberry syrup, strawberry liqueur, or all three! Strawberry cocktails can be served on ice or frozen as a margarita. They can also include a fresh garnish, such as basil or limes.
While there’s a vast variety of strawberry cocktails, they all rely on the flavor of fresh or frozen strawberries!
What’s in a strawberry vodka cocktail?
You only need six simple ingredients to craft the best strawberry drink!
- Strawberries: Since strawberries are the star ingredient in this cocktail, try to use the ripest berries you can find! Ripe berries are usually the sweetest and yield the best tasting cocktail!
- Sweetener: Fresh berries need a touch of sweetener to bring out their full, natural flavor! A couple tablespoons of agave or honey are used to make an easy strawberry simple syrup.
- Lime Juice: Acid, in this case lime juice, is a must to keep the cocktail well balanced. I highly recommend using freshly squeezed lime juice for the best taste! The stuff in a green bottle contains additives that alter the flavor resulting in a lackluster taste.
- Basil: While fresh basil might sound odd in a cocktail, it adds a delicious sweet and savory flavor with a subtle hint of mint!
- Vodka: Vodka has a clean, transparent flavor which really allows the fresh strawberries to shine! (Scroll down to read all about the best vodkas and vodka substitutes!)
- Sparkling Wine or Club Soda: A healthy splash of sparkling wine, club soda or lemon-lime soda adds the perfect effervescent finishing touch!
Substitutions and variations
Want to make a few changes or additions to this summer cocktail? Go for it – I encourage you to make this recipe your own! Get creative and craft a one-of-a-kind cocktail or simply eliminate any ingredients you don’t like and substitute them with ones you love! Below are a few easy ideas to get you started!
- Berries: You can substitute the strawberries with any of your favorite summer berries, such as raspberries or blueberries! Or, try using a combination of berries for a more dynamic drink!
- Fresh Herb: I absolutely love strawberries with fresh basil; however fresh mint will work equally as well!
- Sparkling Wine: This cocktail really benefits from a finishing touch of bubbly effervescence. You can use any sparkling wine, champagne, club soda, lemon-lime soda or even sparkling water!
Using vodka in cocktails: FAQ
Which vodka is best for mixing cocktails?
You are definitely not alone if you have ordered a cocktail and been unsure about which brand of vodka to select! It can be intimidating and difficult to choose the best brand of alcohol for mixed drinks.
Despite its reputation as being neutral in flavor, vodka actually has a wide range of flavor profiles and aromas. Different brands of vodka are in fact better suited for different cocktails.
For fruity, juicy cocktails you should opt for a brand that has a smooth and slightly dry taste to balance out the sweetness of the strawberries. However, there is no need to break the bank and buy an expensive brand. The vodka taste will mostly be hidden in the sweet-fruity flavors of the cocktail. If you decide to go the budget-friendly route, just make sure you select a quality brand with an easy-drinking taste.
The best vodkas brands for crafting fruity cocktails
- Tito’s Handmade Vodka: Tito’s is made in Texas and has a cult-like following. It’s easy to drink and economical in price.
- Smirnoff: American made Smirnoff has an ultra smooth mouthfeel and bright taste. It blends seamlessly with fruit-forward mixed drinks!
- Ketel One: Ketel One has a citrus-forward flavor with a neutral, dry finish. It offers the perfect balance and is a delicious match for sweet-tart cocktails!
- Crop Cucumber Organic Vodka: If you are looking for something different, cooling cucumber flavored vodka is a delicious option!
How much vodka do I need for a cocktail?
When preparing a cocktail at home you should aim for a harmonious blend of flavors. With that said, you should also make the cocktail to your specific taste!
The Golden Ratio mixologists use to create cocktails is simple, it’s 2:1:1.
- 2 parts spirit (vodka)
- 1 part sweet (strawberry syrup)
- 1 part tart (lime juice)
While the Golden Ratio is a great starting point for crafting cocktails, I prefer a smoother mixed drink; therefore, this strawberry cocktail recipe uses equal parts of all three components (spirit, sweet and tart). If you want a cocktail that celebrates booziness, by all means, double the amount of vodka or halve the amount of syrup and soda!
What can I use instead of vodka?
Not a fan of vodka and need a good alternative? Below are four good substitutes for vodka in mixed drinks.
- White Rum: White rum is light-bodied with a slightly sweet taste. It is more subtle and better suited for fruity mixed drinks than dark rum.
- Blanco Tequila: Also called silver or white tequila, Blanco tequila is characterized by its clear appearance. It is typically agave-forward, with notes of citrus and pepper. For the best taste, look for a 100% agave tequila.
- Aquavit: Produced in Scandinavian countries, aquavit is a flavoured, distilled spirit that is dry in flavor. While there are various aromatic flavours used in production, look for ones with lemon or orange peel as opposed to fennel and anise, or caraway and cumin.
- Gin: While the botanicals of gin can add an extra layer of complexity to drinks, they don’t mix well with fruity libations. Select a brand of gin that is citrus-heavy such as Roku or Amalfi which will create a cocktail with lots of zing!
Strawberry basil cocktail: FAQ
How to mix a cocktail?
It can be tough to know when to shake versus when to stir a cocktail. A general rule of thumb is that you shake a cocktail if there is something other than alcohol in the drink. Essentially, you shake a cocktail whenever you need to ensure that every ingredient is fully incorporated into the cocktail.
Cocktails to shake
- Cocktails made with citrus, fruit juices, simple syrup and sour mix
- Mixed drinks made with cream, cream liqueurs, eggs or other dairy products
Cocktails to stir
- Cocktails made entirely of spirits, including bitters
- Libations made with soda, tonic or sparkling wine
Take away: Since this strawberry cocktail recipe contains both fruit juice and sparkling wine or soda, it will be shaken first and then topped off with the effervescent finisher. Do not attempt to add the sparkling wine or soda to the shaker and then proceed to shake! You will end up with a flat cocktail at best, or an exploding shaker at worst!!
How to make a strawberry cocktail?
- Add cocktail ingredients first. Add the cocktail ingredients to the shaker and then fill it halfway to the top with ice.
- Use large ice. The larger and denser the ice cube, the better. Smaller ice cubes, such as crushed or chipped ice, will dilute faster, resulting in a watered down drink.
- Shake until the shaker is cold to the touch. Forget about any fancy techniques. You only need to vigorously shake the cocktail long enough to chill, aerate and slightly dilute the drink. A good rule of thumb is to shake for 10 seconds, or until the shaker begins to frost and is cold to the touch.
- Add soda last. Shake the primary vodka cocktail ingredients first, and then add the soda.
- Strain the cocktail. After adding the soda, immediately strain the cocktail into a glass filled with ice.
Can I turn this into a strawberry mocktail?
Absolutely! To make it a mocktail, add extra strawberry syrup and replace the vodka with either club soda, lemon-lime soda or sparkling water!
Can I use frozen strawberries for a cocktail?
If berries are in season, I highly recommend using fresh strawberries! However, you can also use (unsweet) frozen strawberries. Place the frozen strawberries in a large bowl and thaw before pureeing.
Expert tips for making the best vodka strawberry cocktails
- Use the freshest ingredients! Make sure you use the ripest, best looking strawberries and the freshest basil you can find at the market! Fresh ingredients are key to ensuring your cocktail turns out beautifully!
- Use a soft touch with the basil! Basil is delicious in this cocktail, but pay attention to how much you add and don’t be overly aggressive. The basil should just add a delicate flavor that enhances the overall taste of the cocktail.
- Fresh lime juice is a must! The green bottle of lime juice is convenient and definitely has it’s place if you are in a pinch; however, this cocktail isn’t it! In order to keep the cocktail balanced and beautiful, use fresh lime juice.
- Add the cheapest ingredients to the shaker first! Always start with the cheapest ingredients first when adding to the cocktail shaker – that way, if you make a mistake or add too much and half to start over, you aren’t throwing away the most expensive ingredient!
How to batch strawberry cocktails?
This strawberry mixed drink recipe is easy to big-batch and serve at your next large gathering or summer party! Below are easy tips and the best strategy for making a big batch of cocktails ahead of time!
What you can prepare ahead of time
- Adjust the recipe: This strawberry basil cocktail recipe yields 1 drink. Hoover your mouse over the “servings” in the recipe card and use the slider to scale the recipe up to the number of people you need to serve. Double check the quantities of the ingredients to ensure everything properly. Tip: If the recipe adjusted to a decimal or a weird number, always round up to give yourself a little wiggle room!
- Mix, Measure and Set Aside: Mix the strawberry simple syrup, pour it into a carafe and store it in the refrigerator. Measure out the vodka, pour it into a separate carafe and set it aside at room temperature.
- Garnishes: If you plan on garnishing your cocktail with slices of strawberries, go ahead and prep (slice) the strawberries. Store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
When you are ready to serve the batch cocktails
- Glassware: Get your glassware, cocktail shakers and pitchers ready to go. If you plan on rimming the glasses with sugar, do that before any guests arrive.
- Shake the cocktail: Follow the recipe instructions, adding ice and strawberry simple syrup to the cocktail shaker. Shake according to the recipe.
- Strain: Strain the drinks into your serving pitcher.
- Add garnishes: Add slices of strawberries and a handful of basil leaves to the pitcher.
- Just before serving – add sparkling wine: When your guests have arrived, add ice along with the sparkling wine, club soda, lemon-lime soda or sparkling water to the pitcher. Serve and enjoy! (Tip 1: Make sure you don’t add the sparkling element to the pitcher too soon or it will lose its effervescence! Tip 2: Be light handed when adding ice to the pitcher so you don’t water down the cocktail!)
How to pair cocktails with food?
Pairing cocktails with food can seem like an intimidating task; however, actually a fun opportunity to shake things up! Cocktails should elevate a dining experience, and this fruity drink can enhance a wide variety of meals, from casual backyard barbecues to alfresco gatherings and elegant dinner parties! Here are a few simple tips to help you pair this strawberry cocktail recipe with food!
Expert tips for pairing strawberry cocktails with food
- Use the cocktail to complement your meal. The cocktail should naturally fit and complement a dish by either matching or contrasting flavors. For example, you can pair this light drink with a heavier meal or try pairing it with spicy dish. For matching flavors, try pairing this refreshing strawberry cocktail with a cooling summer soup, such as chilled cucumber.
- The cocktail should enhance the flavors of your food. Never let the cocktail overpower a dish or compete with the flavors of your food.
- Use the basil to match flavors. Fresh herbs are an helpful way to pair cocktails with food. Use the basil and match it to similar flavors in your food! For example, try pairing this strawberry basil cocktail with basil pesto pasta!
- Experiment. The key to pairing food with a drink is to experiment! Food and cocktail pairings are meant to be enjoyable, so experiment to find out what pairings you love!
What food goes with fruity cocktails?
The pairing options and flavor combinations for fruity cocktails and food is nearly endless! Try to remember that pairing food with cocktails is an opportunity to get creative – use the opportunity to explore different flavor combinations! Here are a few pairing options to get you started!
- Caprese Salad: This basil-infused cocktail mimics the fresh basil in a Caprese salad!
- Goat Cheese: Soft goat cheese pairs perfectly with a fruity cocktail, especially during the warm summer months!
- Fruit Salad: Fresh fruit salad and this cooling summer sipper are an obvious pairing option! If you are looking for a little complexity, try drizzling your fruit with honey-balsamic dressing!
- Salad: This strawberry cocktail is a refreshing add-on to any variety of salad!
- Barbecue: Fruity vodka drinks are the perfect match for all your summer barbecue fare – anything from hot dogs to beer chicken will do!
- Grilled Chicken: Juicy chicken is a neutral partner for your strawberry drink!
- Fried Chicken: Effervescent drinks pair brilliantly with crunchy, fried foods!
- Seafood: Crisp, cooling cocktails pair perfectly with seafood, such as shrimp cocktail, salmon and lump crab cakes!
- Spicy Foods: Slightly sweet, fruity cocktails are a wonderful way to tame a spicy dish! Try pairing this cocktail with Nashville hot chicken!
- Salty Foods: Opposites attract and that’s why sweet and salty go together hand in hand! Try pairing this strawberry cocktail with pretzels or mixed nuts!
- Desserts: Try staying in the same flavor lane by pairing your strawberry cocktail with a sweet dessert, such as ice cream, pudding, vanilla custard or strawberry shortcake!
Accomplish ALL your cocktail goals and add this Strawberry Vodka Cocktail to your summer libation rotation!
In light of Memorial Day, I will not be posting on Monday, so until next Thursday friends, cheers – to sipping on summer with a refreshing summer cocktail… or two!
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How to make a Strawberry Basil Vodka Cocktail at home 👇
Strawberry Basil Vodka Cocktail
- Fine-mesh Sieve (optional)
- Cocktail Shaker
- Cocktail Glass
Strawberry Syrup: (yield = about ½ cup or enough for 2 cocktails)
- ½ Pint Strawberries - hulled and sliced (about 6 large or 12 medium berries)
- 2-4 TBS Agave or Honey - or more to taste (SEE NOTES)
- 1 ounce Fresh Lime Juice
- 3 Basil Leaves
- 2 ounces Strawberry Syrup (1/4 cup) (SEE ABOVE)
- 2 ounces Vodka - or more or less to taste
- 2 ounces Sparkling Wine, Lemon-Lime Soda or Club Soda - chilled, or more to taste
Optional Garnishes: Lime Wedges, Sliced Strawberries, Basil Leaves, Sugar for Rim
- Make the strawberry syrup: Combine the strawberries, agave and lime juice in a blender. Blend until smooth. Optional: Strain the syrup through a fine mesh sieve to remove seeds.
- Muddle the basil: In a cocktail glass, gently muddle basil leaves. Fill the glass with ice.
- Prepare the cocktail (SEE NOTES): Fill a cocktail shaker 1/2 to 3/4 full with ice. Pour in ¼ cup of the strawberry syrup. Add in the vodka. Shake for about 10 seconds, or until the shaker begins to frost and is cool to the touch.
- Add soda & pour cocktail: Add the sparkling wine (or club soda) to the shaker. Strain the cocktail into the prepared cocktail glass.
- Serve: Garnish the glasses with strawberries, more basil leaves and lime wedges if desired. Enjoy!
- Strawberry Syrup: The strawberry syrup will yield enough for TWO cocktails. The recipe can easily be doubled, tripled, etc. The syrup can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
- Basil: If you want a more prominent basil flavor, add a large basil leaf to the blender with the strawberries when making the syrup.
- Sweetener: The amount of sweetener needed will depend on the ripeness of your strawberries and personal preference. Taste your strawberries, if they are sweet, start with only 2 tablespoons of agave. If your strawberries are bland, start with 3-4 tablespoons. Blend the syrup and then taste it. If the syrup is not sweet enough, add more agave (or honey), one tablespoon at a time, until desired sweetness is achieved. Remember, you can always add more sweetener, but you can't take it out once it is added!
- Garnish: While not required, I highly recommend garnishing your cocktail glasses with a sugar rim! It enhances the sweetness of the cocktail! Just make sure you coat the rim in sugar BEFORE you muddle the basil leaves!
- To rim cocktail with a sugar, wet the rim with lime juice. Dip or roll the rim in sparkling or coarse sugar. Allow the rim to dry.
- Mocktail: Use extra strawberry syrup and lemon-lime soda to replace the vodka!
- Soda: I use regular sprite or 7 up in my cocktails. However you can use any lemon-lime flavored soda you love! Both diet and regular sodas work well!
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