I tell people not to worry too much about simple exchanges and imprecise measurements. Want to consume some honey or use rum instead of tequila? Go ahead, you’re not negotiating the Treaty of Versailles. Lavender is the exception. It’s so easy to overdo this ingredient and condemn your drink to barely drinkable potpourri. That said, lavender can be sublime when applied appropriately. My sweet spot is when it barely registers. I want people to ask, “What flavor is this?” before I dizzily reveal the secret.
Alcohol is an excellent solvent or, to put it another way, very “catchy”. Not only does it mix with water, sugar, and citrus juice when you shake it into a cocktail, it also does a really good job of removing essential oils from other substrates. (This is the same thing that happened with the butter infused rum from my hot butter rum recipe.) In the case of this drink, we strip the lavender essential oils from the dried flower buds. Unlike the buttery rum brew, which takes hours, this brew only takes 5 minutes, so you don’t have to plan ahead. Plus, with a mesh tea infuser, you only need to steep the amount you’re about to use in the cocktail. (Although you can steep a whole bottle if you wish – it will keep well. For a 750 milliliter bottle of vodka, mix with 1 1/3 cups of lavender. Let stand for 5 minutes, then strain. Rebott and store in a cool, dark place for up to 3 months.)
With this drink, I really wanted to let the subtlety of the lavender speak for itself and leave out the unnecessary embellishments – except for the origami flower, a cute party trick well worth practicing.
Recipe: Vodka and Lavender Lemonade
- 2 ounces of vodka
- 1 3/4 tablespoons food grade dried lavender
- 1 1/2 ounces freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 1/2 ounces simple syrup
- Pour the vodka into a small shaker box. Place the lavender in a mesh tea infuser and drop it into the vodka. After 5 minutes, remove the strainer from the vodka, let it drain, and discard the lavender. (If you don’t have a tea infuser, you can strain the vodka through a fine-mesh sieve.) Add the remaining ingredients and ice. Close the shaker and shake vigorously for 15 seconds. Pour the entire contents of the shaker into an old fashioned glass. Decorate with an origami flower, if desired.