This past summer I went to the Annual Lavender Festival in Sequim, Washington. We toured farms, ate overpriced fair food, smelled soaps and soups of lavender, and sometimes just frolicked.
Being me, I bought a giant bag of culinary lavender and instantly started dreaming up various ways to use it. When I got home, I realized I had bought probably way more than I could use (a full mason jar), but instead of giving into despair, I threw myself recklessly into the challenge.
At first I tried lavender sugar (still steeping away quietly and prettily)…
The big hit of the summer was lavender lemonade, taken off a festival flyer: just steep a tablespoon of lavender in a cup of boiling water for about ten minutes or so and add to your lemonade. It’s ridiculously refreshing.
Important note: there are different types of lavender, and for the purposes of this post, I’m talking about culinary lavender, usually English or Provence lavender. None of them will poison you, it’s just that these ones taste best.
Well, summer is gone, and our yen for lemonade is passing as the nights grow colder and windier. I still have over half a jar left to me, so I began mentally poking around, searching for the next application of floral cooking wonderland when I stumbled upon one of our favorite cold-weather treats: alcohol. Yes! Of course! When darkness creeps in, scare away the night with a little nip. What better than lavender infused vodka to bring a breath of summer back into our poor, daylight savings-thwarted lives?
Thus was born the Lavender Lemon Drop: the adult version of summer time’s thirst-quencher. First: the vodka.
This is one of the easiest infusions I’ve ever made. Add about a quarter cup of lavender to a 72 ounce bottle of vodka of your choice. I’d choose a higher quality brand because the lavender is a rather delicate flavor and you don’t want to be distracted by the side flavors of say, Monarch. Wheat vodkas especially, with a sweeter flavor profile suit this. I’m rather broke, so I think I’ll start offering to produce in exchange for a tithe.
Stick it in the cupboard for a week. Much to my disappointment and the shattering of my dreams that everything in cookery follow a primary color scheme, the vodka will turn brown, NOT purple. Strain out the lavender (save the vodka) and enjoy in the following cocktail:
Desa’s Lavender Lemon Drop
I usually do 1 part = 1 oz for 1 serving
1 1/2 parts lavender vodka
1/2 part Triple Sec or other orange liquer
1 teaspoon sugar
3/4 part lemon juice
Shake that sucker until an ounce of its life in a cocktail shaker with plenty of ice. If you’d like, use simple syrup, but I like the texture of the sugar granules in my drink – ah, mouthfeel. I’m not going to demand you use fresh squeezed juice, though it tastes better; I’m a plastic lemon girl through practicality. Also, rimming your martini glass with sugar is pretty and cuts the citrus bite, but again… I’m lazy. I’d like to get to the savoring part more quickly.
When you see the pictures I bought with a martini or two, you’ll see. I did garnish with some lavender as a courtesy warning that this isn’t your normal cocktail. Plus it IS pretty. Final two photos courtesy of John Conniff, after liberal application of lavender vodka.