'Bazinagole' is no doubt a very versatile herb. Aside from being a major player in your marinara and Sunday Gravy recipes (yes, there is a difference), it can, among many other ways, be chopped up and made into a delicious pesto. You can also use the whole leaf – for example, rolled up with a nice slice of prosciutto and a piece of sharp provolone in a chicken cutlet, then grilled. Delish!!! But did you know that basil can also play a pivotal part in an after dinner drink?
A few years back, my good friend John had given me a bottle of his mother's home made basil liqueur. He told me to use it as a digestivo (a sipping drink made of water, sugar and alcohol, flavored with a fruit, herb or root, and enjoyed after a huge meal to help assist with the digestion) Limoncello is one of the more popular digestivos today. I knew to dare not ask John for his mom's famous family recipe, but I did come across a recipe online that is similar in taste, scent and color, and honestly is quite enjoyable...but still a distant second to the treasured old world bottle that John gave to me and still sits in my liquor cabinet.
As with all home made liqueurs, you want to use a higher proof alcohol base to extract the flavors from whatever fruit or herb you are using. While grain alcohol is not absolutely necessary (and can be hard to find), I recommend using at least 100 proof vodka. It is strong enough to do the trick without packing too much of a wallop. And be sure to use good vodka. The cheap stuff will taste just that – cheap and harsh.
Aside from being a tasty digestive aid, basil liqueur is easy to make and has a short preparation time compared to most other liqueurs. It also makes for a generous and impressive gift for birthdays and holidays.
40 leaves fresh basil
1 750ml bottle 100 proof vodka (be sure to use a good brand vodka)
2.25 cups water
2.5 cups sugar
Boil the water. Put the washed, fresh basil leaves in the water, in a covered jar, and leave for a day in a dark, dry area. The water will now be a greenish yellow color. Filter using a fine filter (cheesecloth or coffee filters work well). Add the alcohol and sugar. mix and bottle. And that's it!