A Basil and Lemon Martini (and other herbal infusions)

I hate waste. If I leave my flat for an extended period of time (a fortnight for example) I can’t stand the thought of anything going off or out of date and I hate throwing things out.

I might pickle certain things, like any leftover cucumber to make Japanese Tsukemono. Otherwise, with my herbs I do what naturally comes to mind. I stick them in alcohol. 


I’ve recently blogged about infusing Coriander/Cilantro which worked quite well. I’ve also done it with sage.

I also have a friend who recommended that I try doing it with basil and lemon.
So, on my last trip, I was set to lave a pretty fresh basil plant behind. Poor guy. He didn’t stand a chance.


If I’m going to infuse something I like the flavour to be definite, not insipid. So I chopped he whole plant.   


I put the chopped leaves and stalks into a clean jar and covered with about half a litre/a pint of vodka.
I also peeled strips of lemon rind and added them too.

Leave it in a cool, dark place to infuse for a few weeks, giving it a shake every now and then if you can. When ready (ie when you get back from a trip for example), remove the herbs, squeeze the alcohol out of them back into the jar and discard them.

If making a martini I like to keep the infusion in the freezer for at least 8 hours before serving. One batch should make around 4-6 martinis.


We didn’t have any martini glasses to hand when we made a batch but it still worked fine.

  • If you’ve got any fresh basil left, rub some around the inside of the glass.
  • Squeeze some lemon peel into the glass.
  • Add a measure of vermouth to taste (between 2tsp to 20ml)
  • Add around 100ml of the infused vodka and stir with the lemon peel.
  • Garnish with basil leaves and/or lemon peel.
  • For a fresher-tasting version take the juice of one lemon and dissolve 6tsp sugar into it.
  • Add a dash of the lemon mixture to each martini.

This works with chives as well. You could use the resulting concoction to make a particularly gripping Gibson Martini.


You can also do it with lavender for a more subtle tasting infused martini.

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