Inspired by the mint julep, Dave Mitton, owner of popular Toronto restaurant and bar The Harbord Room, has created his own homegrown version, using Ontario strawberries and seasonal basil in place of mint leaves.
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2 ounces Maker's Mark Bourbon
2 whole Ontario strawberries
4 fresh basil leaves
3/4 ounce pepper syrup
Hard ice cubes
Prepare the pepper syrup in advance by combining 1½ cups water, 1 cup sugar and three tablespoons whole black peppercorns in a saucepan over medium heat.
Bring to a simmer, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Continue simmering for 20 to 30 minutes before removing from the heat. Let cool and strain through a sieve to remove the peppercorns, then transfer to a bottle with a stopper and refrigerate for up to three weeks.
When ready to make the cocktail, muddle one strawberry and the basil with the pepper syrup in the base of a cocktail shaker. Add bourbon, then the ice cubes. Shake until well blended and fine strain into an Old Fashioned glass filled with crushed ice.
Garnish with the remaining strawberry.