A BEAUTIFUL BEVERAGE THAT IS ZERO-PROOF AND PACKED WITH FLAVOR!
Okay, I might be on to something here but tropical destination-transporting beverages in the dead of winter might just be the move.
SO many of you adored my N/A Lychee Coconut recipe and you know I needed to give you one more recipe that is just as delicious but of course unique and fabulous in its own right.
This Chili Basil Cooler is just that. While I typically don't find myself ordering 'spicier' cocktails while out, I love the flavor and use of heat in non-alcohol zero-proof drinks. After doing quite a bit of research while recipe testing for my mocktail series this month, I learned that this is no coincidence. The heat mimics the flavor of alcohol in a way, adding dimension and a punch to mocktails that is hard to replicate with anything but chili.
So fast forward to now and here we are putting our learning to good use! Adding the only Thai chili to this recipe is a game-changer. A GAME CHANGER. Thai chilis are used and beloved in Indian cooking and for good reason, the heat (for those that seek it) are incredibly pleased when biting into one of these. When I was younger, you could find me adding salt and lime to these and eating them like chips. While I no longer do that, the first thing I reach for when at the Indian store to add to my grocery cart are these little, but potently spicy chilis!
I know what you're thinking...these are HOT. Yes, they most definitely are but there are some solves if you're not too friendly with the heat. You can use half a chili, or use just the tiniest bit. Your call!
Then, we add another favorite Thai ingredient of mine - thai basil. Muddle both of those together with some simple syrup and good god...it is as delicious as ever. You can just leave it as is and add it to some sparkling water (I am impartial to adding it to Aura Bora's Lemongrass Coconut flavor) but we are treating ourselves this dry/damp January and we're pouring it into a fresh young coconut. Now easily available at health food stores (think Whole Foods/Sprouts) or the Indian store, young coconut juice is a treat in itself. It is extra sweet and so nourishing - I love it so much. Serving your mocktail in a fancy glass is important to me (those of you who've followed along for a while know this already) but in a YOUNG COCONUT?
This is happiness as I know it.
4-6 fresh Thai basil leaves or regular basil
7-10 oz of chilled coconut water (I used the juice of a fresh young coconut)
1 Thai chili (halved and seeded) or half of an unseeded jalapeno (cut into thin coins)
1/2 oz of simple syrup
3/4 oz lime juice
In a glass or shallow bowl, add your Thai basil leaves, chili, and simple syrup.
Muddle until the chili and Thai basil becomes aromatic. Set aside.
If using a fresh young coconut like pictured above, carefully cut into the coconut to reveal the juice in the coconut. Each young coconut roughly has about 10 oz of coconut juice, so if not using a fresh coconut to make this recipe - follow the ingredient recommendations above.
Add your muddled Thai basil leaves, chili, and simple syrup concoction to your coconut - using a funnel or measuring cup if needed.
If you are not using a coconut, simply pour the coconut water into a highball glass and add your Thai basil leaves, chili, and simple syrup to the glass.
Top with lime juice and stir to combine with a straw. Enjoy immediately!
If desired, once you finish your mocktail and happen to be serving it in the young coconut - you can cut it in half and enjoy the flesh! It's like a drink and a dessert in one - my favorite kind of pairing!
~ Serves 1
While these ingredients might be a bit harder to find, I've had great luck finding all of these ingredients at H Mart as well as 99 Ranch. The Indian grocer is also a great place to find Thai chili and young coconut. I have also seen Thai basil at some Indian grocers. For ease, I've also seen all of these ingredients available via Instacart. I've offered a bunch of substitutions above (all of which are conveniently more readily available) so let me know how the recipe turns out!
The fresher the chilis are, the spicier they are. This is a no-brainer but trust me - I've made this a few times and noticed that chilis that I just picked up that day are SPICIER than those that have hung out in my fridge for a few days. Depending on when you bought them and your spice tolerance, I'd recommend either using half of a chili or 1/4 of the chili! A little goes a long way here. :)
Be sure to chill your fresh coconut and/or use chilled coconut water. Since we are not using ice or a cocktail shaker for this recipe, this is an important step as the drink tastes best cold!
There are great resources readily available online to help you score and safely open up your fresh coconuts online. Be sure to read the instructions carefully and use a sharp enough knife to easily pry open the coconut.
Simple syrup is available premade but I love making mine - using equal parts white sugar and water. To make simple syrup, just combine both and heat (either on the stove or in the microwave) until the sugar is melted. Cool before using and store in an airtight container for up to 7 days.