Midsummer Nights Gimlet
Photograph by Charlie Nucci, Food Stylist: Lorraine Battle
Tony Dudum, the owner of Walnut Creek’s 1515 Restaurant Lounge, knew an original drink menu would be a key addition to his most recent venture. So, he and noted East Bay mixologist Manny Hinojosa, former bartender at the Walnut Creek Yacht Club, hosted a cocktail-tasting party for a handful of guests.
There were a number of hits among the drinks given a test drive. But, one of the most resounding successes was a strawberry-basil gimlet. “Combined with the gin, the berry and the basil were very refreshing,” says Dudum. His guests concurred, so the strawberry-basil gimlet secured a place on 1515’s drink list.
Gin is often a hard sell, but not in this case. “Once customers see it getting made or actually try one, it’s a slam dunk,” says Dudum. Sweet and herbal, with the botanical overtones of its base spirit, the cocktail is a unique yet completely harmonious blend of flavors.
1515 Restaurant Lounge, 1515 N. Main St., Walnut Creek, (925) 939-1515,www.1515wc.com.
3 leaves fresh basil
1 1/2 strawberries
1/2 lime, squeezed
Dash of sweet-and-sour mix
Splash of simple syrup
2 ounces gin
Muddle basil, strawberries, and lime juice in a shaker. Add sweet-and-sour mix, simple syrup, gin, and a large handful of ice. Shake vigorously, and strain into a chilled martini glass. Bits of strawberry pulp are part of the drink, but if you prefer your cocktails without pulp, use a fine-mesh strainer. Garnish with a strawberry, a wedge of lime, or a basil leaf.
Note: Simple syrup is two parts sugar and one part water heated to dissolve the sugar and then chilled. You can also find prepared simple syrup at liquor stores such as Beverages & More.