the appetizer:

Learn how to make your own liqueur from scratch with Luscious Liqueurs by A. J. Rathbun, including recipes like Persephonia; Limoncello; Basil Grappa; and Simple Syrup.



Basil Grappa

Makes about 1-3/4 pints



Most won't jump right into the idea of infusing grappa because most, or at least many, are a tad scared of grappa. I can understand this, having been nervous the first time I tried it (and I like bitter-and biting-drinks on occasion). I was even more nervous the second time, because my first grappa had a bit of the taste of gasoline. But the second time it was more what I've come to expect with grappa: a serious nature and rewarding flavor. If you haven't come around yet to enjoying grappa straight, this softer version may be right up your after-dinner-drink alley.

  • 1 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 3 cups grappa
  • 1/2 cup Simple Syrup

1. Put the basil and lemon juice in a glass container with a tight-fitting lid. Using a muddler or wooden spoon, muddle the basil leaves and lemon juice.

2. Add the grappa, stir, and seal. Place the container in a cool, dry spot away from sunlight. Let sit for 1 week, swirling occasionally.

3. Add the simple syrup, stir, and reseal. Return to its spot. Let sit for 2 more weeks, swirling occasionally.

4. Strain the liqueur through a double layer of cheesecloth into a pitcher or other easypouring vessel. Strain again through 2 new layers of cheesecloth into 1 large bottle or a number of small bottles or jars.

A Serving Suggestion: Serve Basil Grappa chilled or at room temperature in small glasses; it's especially good for alleviating that over-full feeling when you've had a couple bites too many.


Grappa is a fragrant grape-based pomace brandy of between 50% and 80% alcohol by volume (100 to 160 proof), of Italian origin. See the full article on grappa on Wikipedia.


Buy the Book


Luscious Liqueurs
50 Recipes for Sublime and Spirited Infusions to Sip and Savor

by A. J. Rathbun
Harvard Common Press, 2008
Hardcover, $12.95
ISBN: 1558323805
ISBN-13: 978-1-55832-380-3
Information provided by the publisher.


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