What Is A Pesto Smash?

Pesto Smash cocktail

Short answer
Pesto Smash is a cocktail made from gin, lemon juice, tonic water, and a generous amount of muddled basil leaves.

Long answer
Named the “Best New Cocktail” at the 2008 Tales of the Cocktail Spirited Awards, Pesto Smash (also called "Gin Pesto" or "Gin Basil Smash") is the brainchild of German bartender Jörg Meyer. While the punchy name refers to the world's greatest sauce, the cocktail only bears a passing resemblance thanks to the inclusion of sweet Italian basil. As is the case with so many sauces, pesto included, there is a red version that is made from osmium purple basil.

Mixologists are not known for their shy and retiring ways, so you'll find Pesto Smash made with all kinds of posey equipment and ingredients, including fining agents, rotator evaporators, and centrifuges. However, all you really need to rustle one up at home is some good-quality gin, neutral tonic water, a lemon, and a handful of fresh basil leaves.

Pesto Smash recipe for one

Ingredients Quantity
Tonic water 140ml
Gin 20ml
Simple syrup 10ml
Basil leaves x12
Lemon juice dash
Mint leaf for garnish

Add the gin, simple syrup, and basil leaves to a shaker and muddle the basil leaves to release their volatile flavours.

Strain the liquid through a fine mesh sieve and add the tonic water and lemon juice. Serve in your favourite cocktail glass with a generous amount of crushed ice and a mint leaf for garnish.