Mix it up: Call forth the summer with the basil and lemon daiquiri

Philip Salter
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PEOPLE in all societies find meaning in rituals, and all rituals exist for a reason – even if that reason isn’t instantly obvious.

The Native American practice of dancing about in feathers to try to convince the rain gods to let is almost certainly a waste of time, but at least it looks like fun. Even though it’s founded on a misplaced belief in a connection between dancing and the hydrological cycle, it probably has a role to play in bringing people together.

You never see anyone in this country donning feathers to get it to rain; we get enough of the wet stuff as it is. We don’t need a rain dance; a sun dance would be more appropriate.

I can’t think of a better ritual for bringing on the summer than drinking a cocktail that represents the weather we want. We should all drink a cocktail or three designed for 30°C in the vain hope that the weather gods are taking note. Ryu Okada of Kampai Cocktails has dreamt up the ideal cocktail for the job: the basil and lemon daiquiri.

The basil and lemon daiquiri’s claim to title of “sun drink” is based on three strands: rum, which is principally produced in the Caribbean and Latin America, is the base spirit most associated with the sun; cardamom imparts warmth and spicy flavours perfect for getting you in the mood for summer; and basil, which – like the British – is sensitive to the cold but hardy enough to survive intemperate climates.

Any ritual worthy of the name requires a bit of preparation – the basil and lemon daiquiri is no different. Basil and cardamom syrup is a vital ingredient. To make around 700ml, dissolve 500g of caster sugar in equal parts water; then add 50g of basil and eight crushed green cardamoms and gently heat (don’t boil) for a couple of minutes. Cool for at least an hour in the fridge before using. This will make 28 cocktails (although you don’t need to drink them all at once) and the syrup will last in the fridge for a month or so.

Rain dancers aren’t stupid – they don’t make claims about exactly when their gyrations will make it rain. Similarly, the sun drink makes no claims to timings and quantities, and one cocktail is not guaranteed to have the desired effect. Time for another one then...


■ White rum
■ Basil and cardamom syrup
■ Fresh lemon juice

● Shake all ingredients and double strain into a Martini glass
● Garnish with three basil leaves