Gin Basil Smash Recipe

By Timo Torner / Last updated on May 7, 2023

The Gin Basil Smash is a true success story. The vibrant green drink from Hamburg conquered the world by storm. So, spotlights on for one of the most popular cocktail creations in recent history.
Gin Basil Smash cocktail with basil garnish

Jörg Meyer created the Gin Basil Smash recipe in the summer of 2008. At that time, he had no idea how successful his blend of gin, fresh basil, lemon juice, and syrup would become. 

Sure enough, as owner and manager of one of the best cocktail bars in Hamburg, he knew exactly how to create drinks customers love. 

But then, many bartenders and managers know this, and only a few come up with a triumph like this.

Quick Facts Gin Basil Smash

  • Method: shaken
  • Flavor profile: well-balanced, herbaceous
  • How to serve it: over ice
  • Best glassware: rocks glass
  • Alcohol content: ~ 18% ABV, 19 grams of alcohol per serving

Time to shine some light on this brilliantly refreshing cocktail and show how you can make a perfect Gin Basil Smash at home.

Gin Basil Smash cocktail with basil garnish

Gin Basil Smash Recipe

A refreshing basil-themed gin cocktail.
Prep Time: 3 minutes
Course: Drinks
Cuisine: german
Keyword: basil, Gin
Servings: 1
Calories: 216kcal
Cost: $3.40


  • 1 Jigger
  • 1 Cocktail Shaker
  • 1 Hawthorne Strainer


  • 12 leaves Fresh basil
  • 2 oz Dry Gin
  • 1 oz Freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 0.5 oz Rich simple syrup
  • 1 sprig Basil or mint - (for garnish)


  • Gently muddle the basil leaves in your cocktail shaker.
    12 leaves Fresh basil
  • Add the other ingredients as well as lots of ice and shake until well-chilled.
    2 oz Dry Gin, 1 oz Freshly squeezed lemon juice, 0.5 oz Rich simple syrup
  • Strain into a chilled, ice-filled old fashioned glass.
  • Garnish with basil or a mint sprig.
    1 sprig Basil or mint


Serving: 4ozCalories: 216kcalCarbohydrates: 5gSodium: 4mgPotassium: 118.5mgSugar: 5gVitamin C: 11mgIron: 0.5mg
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Ingredients for the Perfect Gin Basil Smash

The recipe of the Gin Basil Smash calls for four ingredients - fresh basil, dry gin, simple syrup, and lemon juice. Here are our recommendations for the perfect cocktail:

  • For the gin, I like to use Citadelle, but any quality dry gin works.
  • The lemon juice needs to be freshly squeezed for the perfect result. Do not take a shortcut by using bottled juice. It will spoil the entire drink.
  • For the simple syrup, you can use a store-bought version. These bottled sugar syrups for cocktails work perfectly fine. Yet, to save a few bucks, you can also easily make your one.
  • The basil leaves should be fresh and fragrant. Pluck them shortly before you want to use them. In case you were wondering, dried basil won't work.

Tips for Mixing

When working with basil in cocktails, it usually is enough to slap the leaves to release their essential oils and then break the leaf structure by shaking the cocktail. The same goes for mint, where this technique also reduces bitter notes. 

For the Gin Basil Smash, it is a bit different, though. Meyer recommends muddling the leaves before to achieve a greener drink.

He also states that there is no such thing as too much basil. Hence, make sure not to hold back on this element.

According to Meyer, the same applies to the amount of gin in the cocktail. While 2 ounces are in the recipe, he has a simple rule when it comes to the gin:

"5cl gin is not enough.
6cl gin is the recipe.
7cl gin is love"

Jörg Meyer

So go strong on basil and increase the amount of gin to 2.3oz if you like (1cl equals 0.33 oz).

Gin Basil Smash Basil Garnish

Origin of the Gin Basil Smash aka. Gin Pesto

Jörg Meyer, bar owner and mixologist from Hamburg extended the menu of his bar in 2008 with a summer cocktail he initially named Gin Pesto. Like the Porn Star Martini by Douglas Ankrah, the Gin Basil Smash first became a best-selling drink at its original bar.

Then, on the 10th of July of the same year, he blogged about his new creation, thus, making it known to the greater public. The recipe was an instant hit, and basil in drinks was trending.

Until today, the 10th of July is celebrated inofficially as GBS day - the Gin Basil Smash Day.

Meyer once explained how he came up with the idea of making this iconic drink: 

On a visit to New York, he had countless Whiskey Smashes, and once back home, he decided to make a smash cocktail himself. He already had a Gin Smash in mind but lacked inspiration.

Then a basil garnish in a recipe booklet he came across during a workshop finally provided the needed impulse.

Instead of solely incorporating basil as a garnish, Meyer began muddling basil leaves with lemon. -Gin, with its various botanicals and flavors, seemed the perfect match. Et Voila, Meyer's version of a Smash cocktail was complete.

Meyer also created a Highball version of his drink, selling under the name Gin Basil Highball at another bar in Hamburg, the Boilerman bar. 

Both drinks are equally good and absolute crowd-pleasers. So if you ever visit Hamburg, stop by Bar le Lion and Boilerman to try the original version yourself.

About Jörg Meyer - Creator of the Recipe

The inventor of the Gin Basil Smash, Jörg Meyer, is one of Germany's most famous bartenders. And back in the mid-2000s, his vision was to open and manage his own cocktail bar.

In 2007 he opened Le Lion - Bar de Paris in Hamburg. Within a few months, the bar built up a reputation to be one of the city's finest cocktail bars. 

One year later, in 2008, the bar was awarded the World’s Best New Cocktail Bar by Tales of the Cocktail, the largest and most influential trade conference in the spirits industry. 

Related Cocktails

Here are some more beautifully refreshing gin cocktails you can serve during a hot summer day:

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