I advise people not to worry too much about simple swaps and inaccurate measurements. Would you rather have a little more honey or use rum instead of tequila? Go for it – you are not negotiating the Treaty of Versailles. Lavender is the exception. It’s so easy to overdo this ingredient and condemn your drink to a barely drinkable potpourri. However, lavender can be sublime when used properly. My sweet spot is when it barely registers. I want people to ask, “What’s that flavor?” before I dizzily unveil the secret.
Alcohol is a great solvent or, to put it another way, very “tacky”. Not only does it mix with water, sugar, and citrus juice when you shake it in a cocktail, but it also does a really good job of removing essential oils from other substrates. (The same thing happened with the butter-infused rum from my Hot Buttered Butter Rum recipe.) In this drink, we strip the lavender essential oils from the dried flower buds. Unlike the butter and rum infusion, which takes hours, this infusion only takes 5 minutes, so there’s no need to plan ahead. Plus, with a mesh tea infuser, you only need to infuse the amount you want to use in the cocktail. (Although you can infuse an entire bottle if you wish – it keeps nicely. For a 750-milliliter bottle of vodka, mix with 1 1/3 cups of lavender. Allow 5 minutes, then strain. Bottle again and store in a cool place , dark place for up to 3 months.)
With this drink, I really wanted to let the delicacy of the lavender do the talking and avoid any unnecessary embellishments—except for the origami flower, a cute party trick that’s worth doing.
Recipe: Lavender Vodka 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 of simple syrup
- Pour vodka into a small can for shaking. Place the lavender in a mesh tea infuser and drop into the vodka. After 5 minutes, remove the strainer from the vodka, drain and discard the lavender. (If you don’t have an infuser, you can strain the vodka through a fine mesh strainer.) 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. Garnish with an origami flower if you like.