This is another recipe that I first made back when it was strawberry season in Arkansas (which is to say, late May), but I know from The Twitter and The Facebook that lots of you people are having strawberries right now, which is grossly unfair. Our season was shorter than ever this year, but I did manage to get several quarts into the freezer. Not as many as I'd like, but at least some. I served this drink to my family at the lake on a holiday weekend, along with some Mozzarella Caprese featuring fresh homemade mozzarella. It was a big day for balsamic vinegar.
Yes, balsamic vinegar is in that drink. As is basil. You're gonna have to trust me here, because this is super refreshing. I stumbled across this recipe a couple of places, and it just looked so good I had to try it...and I kept making it, because YUM. I did a few things differently, because...well, because I just did. And I've done it a couple different way since, so I'll just mention those as we go.
NOTE: You'll need to make the syrup at least one day before you plan to serve this drink.
Strawberry Balsamic Basil Soda
1 cup water
1 cup minced fresh basil leaves
8-10 bruised basil stems
1 cup sweetener of choice (sugar, Splenda, agave syrup, even honey...I've also experimented with stevia extract, though that requires that you use more water and monkey with it a bit)
Strawberry Balsamic Puree:
2 cups chopped strawberries
2 Tablespoons GOOD balsamic vinegar (Modena--don't skimp)
Sparkling water, sparkling wine, tonic, seltzer, club soda...anything bubbly and neutral-ish
Syrup: In a saucepan, combine water, sweetener of choice, and basil stems. Stir to dissolve sweetener, and bring to a light boil for a minute or so. Remove from heat, cover, and let stand for 10 minutes. Add the minced basil leaves to the pan, cover, and let stand a half hour or so (until it's cool). Remove basil stems, and transfer the rest to a Mason jar with a lid, and let it steep in the refrigerator overnight. Strain out the minced basil just prior to serving.
Puree: Use a blender, food processor, or stick (immersion) blender to puree the chopped strawberries with the balsamic vinegar. You want it as smooth as possible.
Prepare four tall glasses and have whole basil leaves ready for garnish. Pour 1/2 cup strawberry balsamic puree into each glass, and add one cup of seltzer (or whatever carrier you've chosen) and 1-4 Tablespoons of the basil syrup, depending on your taste for sweetness (In my opinion, each glass needs about 3Tbsp of the syrup, which is why I doubled the original recipe), to each glass. Finish with ice to fill glasses, stir gently to combine, and add basil leaves to garnish.