Lemon, Lime, Basil Spritz

My first real life job, outside of babysitting which, when it's a young teenager who's doing the babysitting I think we can all agree doesn't count, was working at a local neighborhood cooking school. There was a beautiful, homey (but still professional, I mean, there were fridge drawers(!!!), which solidified their presence in my future dream kitchen) open kitchen and light and airy retail space. It was such a great first job and I loved it so, even though a good portion of it involved washing dishes, dusting and running up and down the stairs to restock things.

In culinary school, we had to complete an externship. The ideal, of course, was that we'd land one that would further our career goals, something that'd give us a taste of life after classes and practicals and homework. Well it just so happened that the owner of my darling neighborhood cooking school was working on a cookbook and so I asked her if I could be her intern. (Spoiler alert: she said yes) So much about the shop was just as it had been 5 or so years before, but so much had changed, too. A few weeks in, the staff, which was composed of exceedingly lovely, nearly all new-to-me people, introduced me to their almost every Friday evening tradition: Cocktail Friday. (Side note: I know they didn't invent the concept of Cocktail Friday, but they're my strongest association to the idea)

After the externship wrapped up and I became a culinary school graduate, I moved to Georgia for graduate school. At some point along the way I revived that Cocktail Friday tradition and, well, here we are now. Each time I 'celebrate' Cocktail Friday I raise a glass to my sweet flavour friends.

Honestly, what better way to celebrate Labor Day Weekend than with a light and bright cocktail that screams "summer!"? This one's a bit customizable--love that lime pucker? Add another squeeze of juice. Feel like you need a little sweetness after crazy week? Add some extra lemon syrup. Want to simplify? Skip the lemon and just use regular simple syrup instead. I won't tell. I typically use vodka in this drink, but a not-too-assertive gin would work, as well.

Lemon, Lime, Basil Spritz

Makes: 1 cocktail

Juice from 1/2 a lime

5-10 fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped

3/4 oz lemon syrup (or simple syrup)

1 1/2 oz vodka

Club soda or seltzer

Ice

To make the lemon syrup, should you fancy: Measure equal parts granulated sugar and lemon juice into a small saucepan. Heat on stove until sugar is entirely dissolved. Cool completely. -- NOTE: For those of you who freakishly go through as many lemons as I tend to, I'm obsessed with this method by Serious Eats' Stella Parks, which I also use for lime syrup (!!).

Now on to the good stuff.

To make the cocktail: Put some ice in a cocktail shaker. Add lime juice, basil leaves, syrup and vodka to shaker. Make sure that lid's on tight and shake that sucker up. Shake until you're convinced it's well-mixed and COLD (clearly my cocktails are an exact science). Add some ice to a glass. Pour cocktail over the ice and top with soda or seltzer. You might need to give it a little stir. I'll leave that up to you.