Thai Zinger

This year I was surprised to find some saplings of Lemon Grass and Thai Basil at the local Home Depot Garden Center. I frequently use these herbs in my cooking but have always had to go to the Asian grocery store to replenish my weekly supply. So the idea of growing some in my backyard herb garden, where I could have a fresh supply at hand was indeed exciting. Despite the drought in our region, both these herbs have done quite well in my little veggie patch and all through the summer I have used them in various Thai curries or to marinade shrimp or even some steak.
Both these herbs have strong summery aromas and they work amazingly well together.  This time I used these classic Thai herbs in their raw form to make a really delicious summer cocktail.  My only problem with this recipe is that it is really delicious and quite deceptive because the taste of alcohol is masked by the flavors of Lemon Grass and Thai Basil – so one doesn’t always realize how much alcohol is being consumed! It is indeed highly addictive!  So I would recommend that if you are planning to use it at a party, let your guests know that it is spiked and that even one or two of these drinks can give you quite a buzz (or cut back on the gin you add to it).  This was a real successful experiment for me – the drink is very refreshing and great for a summer party – do try it – Cheers!!!



1.    Two fresh Kiwis
2.    One Green Lime
3.    A handful of Lemongrass
4.    A handful of Thai Basil leaves
5.    4 tablespoons of sugar
6.    4-5 tablespoons of water (to make a simple syrup)
7.    2 shots of Gin (I used Bombay Sapphire Dry)
8.    12-16 ounces of chilled Club Soda
9.    8-10 ice cubes.


1.    Mix the sugar and the water and place them in small pot over low heat to make a Simple Syrup.
2.    This may take 3-4 minutes – when the sugar is completely dissolved, set this liquid aside to let it cool down.
3.    While the syrup is cooling down, wash the Lemon Grass, Thai Basil, Lime and Kiwi fruits.

4.    Peel the Kiwi fruits and cut the flesh into large chunks.

5.    Place the chunks of Kiwi, Lemon grass, Thai Basil leaves and the Simple Syrup in a blender.

6.    Also add the juice of one fresh lime.

7.    Blend all everything in the blender till it gets the consistency of a thick paste.
8.    Run this thick pulp through a sieve to make a concentrate of all the ingredients.  This step is necessary to remove the fibrous Lemon Grass out of the drink but still get its flavor into the drink.
9.    Divide the concentrate equally into two clean glasses and add one shot of gin to each of the glasses.
10.    Also add 3-4 ice cubes to each of the glasses.

11.    Slowly add the chilled club soda to the glasses.

12.    Garnish each of the glasses with a slice of Kiwi and a sprig of Thai Basil.

13.    Serve immediately so that the drink is still fizzy and cold! Cheers!!!


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  1. Permalink Submitted by Rupali on Fri, 24/08/2012 - 00:15

    Definitely on the list for the summer BBQ’s. How good would this be with your Indonesian Satay Chicken. Cannot wait for summer now!

  2. Permalink Submitted by Shabnam on Fri, 24/08/2012 - 18:01

    HEYYY Rupali – I forgot it is winter for you guys down under – yes, I guess you’ll have to wait till summer! Keep me posted on how it turns out whenever you do try it 🙂

  3. Permalink Submitted by Shilpa Patel on Sat, 08/09/2012 - 17:52

    sounds delicious! Now I’m going to flavour some plain vodka with the Kaffir Lime leaves and then use that in a cocktail… could do the same with the thai basil and lemon grass, too…
    BTW: the Thais use the woody stalks of the lemon grass plant (citronella or, in Gujarati: leeli cha or green tea, as it is added to chai) but most of my plant is fibrous leaves of the leeli cha variety. Do you cut them back to get the stalks?

  4. Permalink Submitted by Shabnam on Mon, 10/09/2012 - 14:42

    Hi Shilpa – Great idea to flavor the vodka with Kaffir lime leaves!!! That would be great for cocktails or just straight shots!
    I use the white part of lemon grass stalk if I buy it from the Asian market but if I use the one from my herb garden, I use the whole plant (since there isn’t a whole lot to go around I don’t want to waste any bit of it) – this is my first year growing it and its just about a foot in height and the stalks haven’t thickened up much – I wonder if this is a different variety from the one sold in markets. I want to dry it up to make herb tea bags with lemon verbena and maybe thai basil…still on the thinking stage of the experiments I am planning to undertake 🙂

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