little owl - the venue

An event space and culinary showroom with the same charm and caring staff that makes every visit to the little owl feel like a special occasion.

Robert’s Heirloom Tomato Martini

heriloom tomato martini

Last week, our resident mixologist Robert Crosson made an appearance on the Martha Stewart Radio Show. He shared four summer cocktail recipes: the “chef special” (grapefruit juice & tequila), a peach tarragon mojito, lovage lemonade, and an heirloom tomato martini with drops of basil oil (pictured above). As requested, here’s Robert’s step-by-step recipe for the martini.

HEIRLOOM TOMATO MARTINI w/ Droplets of Basil Oil

  • 2oz. lemon vodka
  • 4oz. heirloom tomato water (see below)
  • spl.  lemon juice
  • spl.  simple syrup

Combine all ingredients. Add ice & shake vigorously. Strain into a chilled martini glass. Add a few drops of basil oil. Garnish with a skewer of baby heirloom tomatoes.

Optional: Rim the glass with Maldon Sea Salt & black pepper (pictured above).


  • 4 or 5 large over-ripe heirloom tomatoes
  • 1 lemon (juice and peel)
  • 1 orange (juice and peel)
  • 1 jalapeno (deseeded and chopped)
  • 5 basil leaves
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 cup of vodka

Place all ingredients into a large bowl (except for the peels). Puree with submersible blender. Beat the peels with the back of a spoon (to release the oils) & add to the puree. Let set 12 to 24 hrs, then strain through paper towel, cheesecloth or coffee filter.

This process will take a while, so it’s best to refrigerate overnight. DON’T RUSH THIS PROCESS. The result will be a very clear & beautifully fragrant liquid.


  • large bunch of basil leaves
  • large bunch of parsley leaves
  • 1 cup canola or veggie oil
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • pinch of salt 

Wash and pick basil & parsley leaves. Blanch & shock. Squeeze out excess water. Chop finely and separate. Pour canola oil into blender. Turn on blender and add the basil parsley mixture a little at a time. Add a big pinch of salt. Puree until it has the consistency of a loose pesto. Pour into container, then stir in olive oil. Place in refrigerator for 24 to 48 hrs. Then strain (same process as tomato water above). Result will be a beautifully clear dark green oil.


cocktail & recipe by robert crosson

edited by essence shirley

photo by jon selvey