Lavender is one of my favorite flowers, but I can never quite decide what to do with it. Dry it and use it in a lamb rub? Or sew it into sachets, like my friends at Washington Creek Lavender do? But it’s so lovely fresh. This year, the scent sent me to my cocktail books, and there I discovered lavender lemonade.
The below recipe comes from How to Make Your Own Drinks, and it’s especially fun to make with kids. They can pick the lavender, squeeze the lemons (maybe) and ooh and ahh when adding lemon juice to the lavender syrup turns it pink. Since we also had some grown-ups in the crowd, so I also shook it with Dark Horse Distillery’s Long Shot white whiskey for one of the best cocktails I’ve had all summer.
You can also infuse vodka with lavender (another idea from How to Make Your Own Drinks), or use it to flavor simple syrup. That syrup can then go into a mojito (an idea from Market-Fresh Mixology), Saveur magazine’s lavender-lemon fizz or Imbibe’s Provençal martini.
Maybe I’ll have to plant even more lavender next year…
Lavender lemonade: pick a small bunch of fresh lavender and shake to remove any insects. Put the flower heads in a sauce pan and pour about 2-1/4 cups boiling water over them. Put sauce pan on the stove and bring mixture to a boil; simmer for a minute or two. Turn off the heat and leave for 10 minutes to steep. Strain (I used a cheesecloth-lined strainer). Add about 5-1/2 ounces (about 3/4 cup) granulated sugar and stir to dissolve. Add 5 cups cold water. Squeeze 5 lemons and add juice to the pan (this is when it turns pink). Strain again, if needed. Taste to see how concentrated the flavor is; add more sugar or water to taste.
To make a lavender lemonade cocktail: Combine 3 ounces lavender lemonade and 1 ounce Long Shot white whiskey to a mixing glass. Fill partway with ice, and then shake. Strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a lavender sprig.