Today is the first day of summer. When we think of summer, we think of lavender.
Lavender is a flowering plant, a genus of 39 species that originated in the Mediterranean, northern and eastern Africa and southwest Asia, including India. The most widely cultivated species is English lavender, Lavandula angustifolia. Though not native to England it has long been the preferred variety grown there.
As noted in Wikipedia, the names “English lavender,” “French lavender” and “Spanish lavender” are “imprecisely applied.”
The word lavender may be derived from Latin livere, “blueish.”
It is grown as an ornamental flower, and also as a culinary ingredient. The oil is used to scent beauty and household products. Medicinally, it was used as a disinfectant and antiseptic by ancient herbalists. It became a cosmetic herb and a tonic due to its popularity with the English royalty.
The different lavender types vary in the potency and flavor of the flowers and oils. English lavender is the sweetest and the most commonly used.
If you look for lavender recipes, you’ll find almost every food embellished with lavender. We can’t possibly narrow the selection, so look for what you like.
What we will do is tell you how to infuse lavender in alcohol and simple syrup, and make lavender cocktails.
Lavender makes a summer soft drink or cocktail. Photo courtesy DrySparkling.
INFUSING LAVENDER IN ALCOHOL
When lavender buds are steeped in alcohol, the essential oils are extracted from the flowers and infused into the alcohol.
Add sprigs of to a bottle of gin, vodka or tequila, let it infuse in a warm, dark place for a week or two, then put the bottle in the freezer so it will be chilled and ready for summer drinks.
Note that you need organic lavender: You don’t want pesticides in your food.
Our favorite is lavender-infused gin. Lavender is a great match with the botanicals in the gin.
Lavender is a great pairing with lemon, so don’t hesitate to add lavender to a bottle of lemon vodka. of gin and lavender make an absolutely fabulous gin and tonic! A sprig of lavender in a martini with a twist of lemon is another intriguing synergy.
Ingredients Per Drink
1. COMBINE the ingredients into a cocktail shaker filled with ice.
2. SHAKE well and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with the lavender sprig.
Infuse lavender buds in this simple syrup recipe. Use 1 tablespoon dried lavender buds per each cup of water.
LAVENDER SUGAR RIM
Put a lavender rim on any cold or hot beverage where you’d like the extra flavor. Try it with iced tea!
1. PLACE the lavender and sugar in a food processor and pulse to mix evenly. Flecks of lavender should be evenly distributed throughout the sugar.
2. MAKE the rim by dipping the glass rim in water, about 3/8″ deep. Twist the glass in a dish of lavender sugar to make the sugar rim.
3. STORE unused sugar in an airtight jar, out of direct light.
We’ve enjoyed lots of lavender products, including: