Play Me a Recipe

Yu the Great From Samantha Azarow

June 17, 2021
0 Ratings
Photo by Alex Lau
  • Prep time 4 minutes
  • Serves 1
Author Notes

Former beverage director Samantha Azarow leaned on coconut milk in order to keep Departure’s menu dairy-free, and it works to marry two seemingly incompatible ingredients in this drink: basil and matcha. I tested the recipe with Italian basil, out of curiosity, and it didn’t work. You really want Thai basil, which is less sweet, more herbal and licorice-like—spicy, even. It’s grown domestically these days, and if it’s not at your local supermarket, you can find it at Southeast Asian stores or order it online at Find matcha powder at most major grocery stores or at And feel free to bump up the lime juice to one ounce if you want more acidity.

This recipe was featured on our new cook-along podcast Play Me a Recipe. Listen as Julia cooks her way through this recipe, offering insider tips and backstory along the way.Julia Bainbridge

Test Kitchen Notes

Reprinted with permission from Good Drinks: Alcohol-Free Recipes for When You’re Not Drinking for Whatever Reason by Julia Bainbridge, copyright © 2020. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House. —The Editors

What You'll Need
  • Yu the Great
  • 1 ounce Basil-Matcha Syrup (recipe follows)
  • 3/4 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1 ounce full-fat coconut milk, well shaken
  • 3 ounces soda water
  • Matcha powder, for garnish
  • Basil-Matcha Syrup
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons matcha powder
  • 1 cup loosely packed fresh Thai basil leaves
  • 1 cup sugar
  1. Yu the Great
  2. Combine the syrup, lime juice, and coconut milk in a cock-ail shaker. Fill with ice, seal the shaker, and shake just to combine, about 3 seconds. Double-strain into a tumbler filled with ice and top with soda water. (This will produce foam, so pour slowly and carefully.) To garnish, sift matcha powder on top of the foam.
  1. Basil-Matcha Syrup
  2. Combine the matcha powder, basil, sugar, and 3⁄4 cup water in a blender and blend on high until smooth and bright green and the sugar is dissolved, about 2 minutes. Strain through a cheesecloth-lined strainer, discard the solids, and let the syrup cool to room temperature. The syrup will keep for 1 week in the refrigerator.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • FrugalCat
  • Julia Bainbridge
    Julia Bainbridge
  • glow-rey
Julia Bainbridge is an editor who has worked at Condé Nast Traveler, Bon Appétit, Yahoo Food, and Atlanta Magazine and a James Beard Award-nominated writer whose stories have been published in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Post, among others. Her book, Good Drinks: Alcohol-Free Recipes for When You're Not Drinking for Whatever Reason, was named one of the best cookbooks of 2020 by the Los Angeles Times and Wired and Esquire magazines. Julia is the recipient of the Research Society on Alcoholism's 2021 Media Award and she is one of Food & Wine magazine's 25 first-annual "Game Changers" for being "a pivotal voice in normalizing not drinking alcohol."

3 Reviews

FrugalCat April 28, 2023
I made it with cilantro instead of basil and it was really good. I was trying a "thai takeout" night at home, with pad woonsen. Felt like a fancy night out at budget prices.
Julia B. April 29, 2023
I love this idea!
glow-rey September 14, 2021
I made this a few times this weekend and really loved it. I did tone down the lime as it was a bit overwhelming. Really nice combo!