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Basilcello / Tim Nusog

Just about everyone loves limoncello, the classic citrus-infused Italian liqueur. But if you’re looking to take your liqueurs to the next level, consider giving basilcello a try. This sweet and herbaceous infusion is easy and relatively quick to make, with just 24 hours of steeping time.

The now-closed eponymous Graham Elliot Bistro in Chicago, which held two Michelin stars, served a chilled shot of this basil liqueur to diners as a palate cleanser between savory and sweet courses. 

It infuses a high-proof neutral spirit like Everclear with fresh leaves of the favorite Italian herb, adding water to tone it down, simple syrup to render it as sweet as it is savory, and a touch of citric acid (easily purchased online or at specialty food stores) as a preservative and to punch up the flavors just a notch. 

You can either emulate its source restaurant by taking a pre-dinner shot or sipping it afterward as a digestif. It’s delightful at any point in your evening. 


  • 1 750-mL bottle 190-proof neutral grain spirit (such as Everclear)
  • 1 pound fresh basil
  • 1 1/2 liters (about 50 ounces) simple syrup
  • 750 mL (about 25 ounces) water
  • 1 teaspoon citric acid


  1. Add the neutral grain spirit, basil and citric acid into a large jar or other sealable container.

  2. Cover and refrigerate for at least 24 hours.

  3. Strain out and discard the solids.

  4. Add the simple syrup and water and stir to combine.

  5. Serve as cold as possible. Will keep, refrigerated, for up to 1 week.