Gin Basil Gimlet

Can we make a toast?

I've been thinking about how to express my feelings on this subject for awhile now. Three weeks ago, my alma mater and former home suffered a horrible tragedy. With the unjust anger of a 22 year old man, six students were killed and a community was scarred forever. Personally, I don't feel I can explain the events leading up to the occurrence eloquently but there were plenty of articles and extensive media coverage to document the Isla Vista rampage. However, before these occurrences Isla Vista has been a place that students, alumni, and locals hold dear to their hearts. 

If you're not familiar with the town of Isla Vista it is a 1 sq mile large, densely packed community located directly beside the campus of University of California, Santa Barbara. As you may have guessed, Isla Vista (or IV) is primarily students; hard working, intelligent students known for partying. In my four years at UCSB, I only spent the last two years living in Isla Vista but from my freshman year to my senior, it was a regular part of my life and college experience. My time in college was not perfect, in fact I had many trying times in which I couldn't wait to move on to a new city but despite the difficulties, IV's tight-knit community made me feel welcome.  Being so far away from the place where I grew into an adult, made (many..many...) mistakes, and made friends that will last a lifetime, my heart is broken. 

My senior year at Santa Barbara, I had the privilege of living with three lovely and caring ladies who made my last year one to remember. This Gin Basil Gimlet was on regular rotation for the entirety of 2010-2011. One sip and I am transported back to getting ready with Elisa, Lore, and Laura in the living room of our El Greco apartment with "Teenage Dream" on the speakers and the whole night ahead of us. I realize a Gin Basil Gimlet sounds awfully fancy for college girls on a budget, but we were classy ladies. Usually. 

How could we resist one or two of these before a Bill's Bus Ride to downtown Santa Barbara?

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Gimlets are delicious on their own, but pair it with a little basil simple syrup and you're in a whole new ball game. This is the major leagues, sista. In my college years, our gin of choice was New Amsterdam mostly because of budgetary reasons but I kicked it up a (little) but my subbing in Tanqueray. Any gin with botanical notes will work but fresh basil and fresh lime juice are essential. None of that dried/store-bought-processed stuff. 

This "toast" is my way of staying close to the community I look back on with nostalgia. Every time I think of the way this horrifying event has caused so many people hurt, I try to remember the love and memories I have of that beautiful place. I will never forget summer evenings on the beach, the sound of the ocean coming from outside my dorm window, flip cup on DP, bike rides through campus, or 2 a.m. nachos at Freebirds with friends. I could go on for hours. Even if I can't be in Santa Barbara this weekend, as seniors graduate and younger students are faced with trying to start fresh after a tragedy that has changed the way the rest of the world looks at our community, I send my love, prayers, and raise a glass to my fellow gauchos. Stay strong IV. 

Gin Basil Gimlet
(for two)

  • 2 shot gin (3 oz)
  • 4 shot lime juice (6 oz)
  • 4 shot basil syrup (6 oz)--recipe follows
  • 4 cubes ice

Combine all four ingredients in a cocktail shaker. Shake for 30 seconds to 1 min and pour into two chilled martini glasses. Enjoy with friends. 

Basil Simple Syrup

  • 1 cup fresh basil, rinsed
  • 1 1/2 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar

Place water and sugar in skillet and bring to a boil, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Add in fresh basil and reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer for 5 min and strain into airtight container. Set aside to cool before using.