During Marathon Monday, my roommate took my Starbucks Very Berry Hibiscus refresher out of my hands, grabbed the small bottle of vodka she had bought the day before, and poured a hefty shot into it. Mixed together with the sweet and fruity flavors of the drink, I could barely taste the alcohol. Sure, it was a bit of a hatch job—eyeballing a shot of vodka into a Starbucks drink—but it got the job done.
Trying out the Courtside, a new cocktail for me, reminded me of this day. With the muddled fruit swimming around in your glass during each sip, it is a carbon copy of the popular Starbucks beverage. But what really takes this cocktail to the next level and separates it from the vodka-refresher concoction? Elderflower liqueur.
I first tried elderflower liqueur my junior year of college and have been a die-hard fan ever since. My favorite brand is St. Germain, but if you’re drinking on a budget, go for the St. Elder Elderflower Liqueur.
Elderflowers come from the elderberry plant, which have small dark purple berries as well as the signature white flowers. The liqueur gives any cocktail floral and slightly sweet nuances.
To make the Courtside, you’ll need a highball glass—a tall, skinny glass. Glassware is crucial when making a cocktail. Yes, I’ve skipped out on serving my drinks in the right glasses a number of times—it’s tricky to have a full cocktail set when you’re a college student. But if you can, opt for the highball glass for this drink. Other glasses include the coup glass, the martini glass (which we’ll be using for the next cocktail), and a rocks glass. Depending on which cocktail you want to make, you’ll have to decide which glass fits the bill.
My favorite element of this cocktail is the muddled fruit. While this recipe usually only calls for strawberries and raspberries, I added basil into it. To muddle fruit and herbs for a cocktail, you’ll need to smush them at the bottom of the shaker before adding the ice and other ingredients. Make sure you muddle them enough so that there aren’t large chunks of fruit swimming in your glass. You can use a strainer to eliminate any fruit bits and only get the flavor and color, but I personally like having the fruit in my drink.
This cocktail is a perfect summer drink that you can impress your friends with by the pool.
2 small strawberries, diced
2 basil leaves, chopped
1 ½ oz. vodka of your choice (I use Tito’s)
½ oz. Elderflower liqueur of your choice
1 ½ oz. apple juice
½ oz. lime juice
⅓ oz. simple syrup
- Muddle the berries and basil at the bottom of a cocktail shaker.
- Add ice.
- Add vodka, Elderflower liqueur, apple juice, lime juice, and simple syrup to the shaker (all the ingredients except the soda water).
- Shake for 30 seconds.
- Add ice to a highball glass.
- Strain the cocktail into the glass.
- Top with soda water.
- Stir to combine, and enjoy!
Featured Graphic by Annie Corrigan / Heights Editor