Basilico Cocktail Recipe

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Basilico Nutrition Facts






Created by

Nic Polotnianko

I fell in love with the art of mixology 6 years ago. Since then, I've honed my skills, crafting a myriad of cocktail recipes, and sharing my passion with other enthusiasts.

Last Updated: January 16, 2024


The Basilico cocktail is a refreshing blend of Italian flavors, perfect for those who appreciate the aromatic fusion of herbs and citrus. It's a modern creation that has gained popularity among cocktail enthusiasts who favor garden-to-glass experiences.

  • Origins
    • The Basilico was conceived in the early 21st century, inspired by the Italian 'aperitivo' culture.
    • It was designed to capture the essence of Italy's rich culinary heritage, with a particular nod to the use of fresh basil.
  • Popularity
    • This cocktail quickly found its place in upscale bars and among home mixologists.
    • Its refreshing taste makes it a favorite during the summer months or as a palate cleanser before a meal.
  • Audience
    • The Basilico is particularly beloved by those who enjoy herbaceous and citrus-forward cocktails.

How Basilico Tastes?

The Basilico cocktail is a symphony of flavors, where the sweet and tangy notes of the Pallini Limoncello liqueur meet the aromatic freshness of basil. The vodka provides a clean canvas, allowing the lemon juice and rich sugar syrup to create a balanced, sweet yet slightly sour, and undeniably refreshing taste.

Interesting facts about Basilico

  • The Basilico cocktail is often associated with the 'farm-to-table' movement due to its use of fresh basil.
  • Despite its Italian name and ingredients, the Basilico has found international appeal and is enjoyed worldwide.
  • Basil is not only a key flavor component but also provides a burst of color, making the Basilico as visually appealing as it is delicious.


  • Fresh basil leaves: 7
  • Ketel one vodka: 2 oz(60ml)
  • Pallini limoncello liqueur: 2 oz(60ml)
  • Lemon juice: 1.5 oz(45ml)
  • Rich sugar syrup: 1.5 oz(45ml)

A few good options for Basilico are:

  • Grey Goose
  • Belvedere
  • Khor
  • Smirnoff

Learn everything on which Vodka to choose

Fresh Basil Leaves

The 7 basil leaves are the herbal backbone of our Basilico. They're like the cool aunt who shows up and makes everything more fun. Not too many to avoid feeling like you're drinking a salad, not too few to miss out on that herbaceous hug. Without them, you're basically drinking lemony vodka – sad, right? Now, if you substitute for mint, you're in a whole different ball game – a more mojito-esque vibe.

Alex Green

Ketel One Vodka

2oz of Ketel One Vodka provides the smooth, clean canvas for our flavors to dance on. Skimp on it and you're sipping a weak tea, overdo it and your cocktail turns into a dragon – breathe fire much? Ketel One is great, but if you want more character, maybe a rye vodka could add some spice to your life.

Mary Mitkina

Pallini Limoncello Liqueur

2oz of Pallini Limoncello Liqueur brings the Italian sunshine. It's the sweet and zesty soul of the cocktail. Use less and the cocktail may lose its sunny disposition; use more and you might as well call it Lemon Drop's cousin. Sub it with another citrusy liqueur, and you’re flirting with a citrus-forward flavor bomb.

Emma Rose

Lemon Juice

Here comes 1.5oz of lemon juice, the zingy cheerleader with the tartness that makes you pucker just right. Without this sharpshooter, the balance falters, and your taste buds might file a lawsuit for bland assault. A lime could pinch-hit, but you'd end up at a very different flavor ballpark.

Alex Green

Rich Sugar Syrup

Finally, 1.5oz of rich sugar syrup is the sweet whisperer, turning down the sour dial so everyone gets along. Go syrup-stingy, and the tartness might kick you in the teeth. Become a syrup philanthropist, and you're entering a sweet swamp. Honey could be a nice alternative – if you're after a richer, earthier sweetness.

Mary Mitkina

Recipe. How to make Basilico Drink

  1. Muddle the basil leaves gently in the base of a shaker.
  2. Add the vodka, limoncello, lemon juice, and sugar syrup to the shaker.
  3. Fill the shaker with ice and shake vigorously.
  4. Strain into a glass filled with crushed ice.
  5. Garnish with a sprig of basil.

Pro Tips

  • Basil: Use fresh basil for the best flavor and aroma.
  • Shake: Shake the cocktail until the shaker feels cold to ensure proper dilution and chill.
  • Garnish: Slap the basil garnish between your hands before adding to the cocktail to release its aromatic oils.

Perfect Pairings


  • Cheese platters: The citrus notes of the Basilico cocktail complement both hard and soft cheeses, cutting through the richness with its acidity.
  • Grilled seafood: Particularly good with shrimp or calamari, the fresh basil and lemon enhance the delicate flavors of the seafood.
  • Bruschetta: A classic Italian starter, the fresh tomatoes and basil in the bruschetta echo the herbaceous quality of the cocktail.


  • Pasta dishes: Light pasta with olive oil-based sauces or pesto. The Basilico's lemon and basil flavors will bring out the fresh taste of the pasta sauce.
  • Chicken piccata: Citrus flavors of the cocktail balance the tangy caper sauce typically found with this dish.


  • Lemon sorbet: A refreshing end to a meal, the sorbet will cleanse the palate while complementing the limoncello in the drink.
  • Fruit tarts: Especially those with a citrus element would pair nicely as they mirror the citrus profile of the Basilico cocktail.

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What you could change in Basilico

  • Vodka: Any premium vodka can be used in place of Ketel One.
  • Limoncello: If Pallini Limoncello is not available, another quality limoncello will suffice.
  • Sugar Syrup: Homemade syrup can be used if a 'rich' syrup is not at hand.

Explore all drinks starting with B here

And of course - twists🍹

Cucumber Basilico

  • Swap out the basil for cucumber slices.
  • Recipe: Muddle cucumber slices in the shaker instead of basil. Keep the rest as is. Serve with a cucumber ribbon garnish. This twist offers a fresher, crisper take on the Basilico, ideal for those who prefer a less sweet, more refreshing cocktail.

Spicy Basilico

  • Add a thin slice of jalapeño to the muddling step.
  • Recipe: Muddle the basil leaves with a jalapeño slice. Follow the original recipe. Garnish with a jalapeño wheel. This twist adds a spicy kick, shaking up the original's smooth spirit. Perfect for the adventurous soul looking to turn up the heat!

Berry Basilico

  • Incorporate mixed berries into the cocktail.
  • Recipe: Gently muddle fresh mixed berries with the basil leaves. Shake with the other ingredients. Strain over fresh ice and garnish with a fresh berry skewer. This version offers a fruity explosion, adding a sweet and tart dimension to the Basilico, making it a berry good choice for summer.

In case you forgot basics how to make Basilico

Add your ingredients to the shaker first, then ice. Fill it up to ¾ of its capacity to ensure enough space for shaking. Hold the shaker with both hands (one on the top and one on the bottom) and shake vigorously. The shake should come from your shoulders, not your wrists.

Learn everything on how to shake

Place your chosen strainer on top of the shaker or mixing glass, ensuring a secure fit. Pour the cocktail into a glass through the strainer, which will catch solid ingredients and ice. If double straining, hold the fine mesh strainer between the shaker and the glass.

Learn everything on how to strain

The key to proper muddling is to crush the ingredients just enough to release their flavors and not overdo it. Over-muddling can result in a bitter taste, especially with herbs.

Learn everything on how to muddle

Garnishing a bar drink depends on the type of garnish and the cocktail. Generally, it involves preparing the garnish (like cutting a citrus wheel or picking a sprig of mint), and then adding it to the drink in a visually appealing way (like perching it on the rim or floating it on top).

Learn everything on garnishing

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Frequently Asked Questions on Basilico

How can I make my Basilico cocktail more or less sweet?

To adjust the sweetness, you can vary the amount of rich sugar syrup according to your taste preferences while keeping the balance with the lemon juice.

What type of basil is best for a Basilico cocktail?

Sweet Italian basil is typically preferred for its bright flavor and aromatic qualities that complement the citrus notes in the cocktail.

Can I use dried basil instead of fresh basil leaves?

Dried basil won't provide the same freshness and aroma as fresh basil leaves. It's best to use fresh herbs for cocktails.

What's the best way to store fresh basil for cocktails?

Store fresh basil in a glass of water, like a bouquet, at room temperature, or wrapped gently in a damp paper towel in the refrigerator for short-term use.

Is there a non-alcoholic version of the Basilico cocktail?

Yes, you can create a mocktail by omitting the vodka and limoncello and substituting with non-alcoholic alternatives like lemonade, and adding more lemon juice and basil for flavor.

How do you properly muddle basil leaves?

Gently press the basil leaves with a muddler in the shaker to release the essential oils without tearing the leaves, which can lead to a bitter taste.

What kind of ice is best for making a Basilico cocktail?

Using crushed ice for the final glass gives a refreshing texture and helps the drink stay chilled longer, while cubed ice is recommended for shaking the cocktail.

How can I tell if a limoncello is of high quality?

Good limoncello has a clear, bright lemon color, a strong lemon aroma without a pungent alcohol smell, and a smooth, sweet, and lemony flavor profile.

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