The summer months aren’t only about tomatoes and grilling—warm weather also heralds a brand new season of cocktails, along with a welcome expansion of where they can be enjoyed. For this effervescent citrus-y cocktail in particular, from Holiday co-owner and Beverage Director Erin Ashford, being outside is practically a prerequisite. A basil-bay simple syrup adds a subtle herbaceous lift to sotol, a distilled spirit that’s related to tequila and mezcal but features distinctively grassy, vegetal notes. Both are complemented by a bit of lemon and a few bubbles.
Garnished with charred grapefruit, there’s no mistaking the season with this one—make the most of it and enjoy it by the pool or at a barbecue. Note: If you can’t find sotol, you can substitute tequila blanco (such as LALO) or mezcal verde (such as Amarás).
Bubbly, citrus-y, and featuring a distilled spirit you may never have heard of, the Texas Sun demands to be drunk outside—now.
Make the basil bay-leaf syrup:
Combine demerara sugar and ½ cup water in a small Stainless Saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring until sugar is completely dissolved.
Reduce heat to lowest simmer, add basil and bay leaves, and steep until herbs are brown or wilted on edges, about 30 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool slightly.
Strain liquid into a resealable container; discard herbs. Syrup can be refrigerated for up to 1 month.
Char the grapefruit:
Using a Paring Knife, cut grapefruit in half lengthwise.
Slice one half into ½”-thick “half moons.” Reserve remaining grapefruit for additional cocktails or another use.
Lay slices flat on a cutting board and sprinkle a small pinch of salt and granulated sugar over each slice. Flip and repeat on other side.
Heat an Enameled Cast Iron Skillet over medium.
Gently place grapefruit slices in Skillet and allow citrus to get a medium char on one side, 3–5 minutes.
Flip slices with tongs or a spatula to get a light sear on the opposite side, about 3 minutes more.
Set aside to cool, then use immediately or store in a resealable container in fridge for up to 2 days.
Make the cocktail:
Combine sotol, lemon juice, and basil bay-leaf syrup in a Drinking Glass.
Fill Glass ¾ full with ice and stir twice using a bar spoon.
Top with sparkling water and stir once gently.
Place charred grapefruit slices inside of drink, pressed against glass.
Add more ice as needed and garnish with basil leaves.