Cocktails With a Hint of Lavender

photo courtesy Social Food & Drink

photo courtesy Social Food & Drink

This floral ingredient is not just for hand cream!

It’s well-known for its calming qualities and intoxicating scent, but beyond its inclusion in hand creams, candles, draw sachets and room sprays, lavender has a side hustle in summery cocktails. It’s definitely an ingredient that requires a light touch, though, says says Victoria Levin, director of project management at Blau + Associates. “A little bit goes a long way, too much can create a soapy feel.” Get a whiff of these five heady, indulgent libations that bring the flower garden to your glass.

Sweet Dreams

Recipe courtesy of Green Fig / Social Drink & Food, New York, NY

Beverage director Ian Nal’s summer concoction is bright, lively and refreshing. “Lavender is mainly used for the aromatics; it is quite distinctive and almost ethereal,” he says. “The ingredient is best used in cocktails with light flavors that won’t get lost next to its delicate quality,” he adds.

Add gin, Lillet, lavender syrup and lemon juice to a cocktail shaker, add ice and shake until well chilled. Strain into a cocktail glass, top off with float of Prosecco and garnish.

Lavender Syrup

Combine 1 cup white sugar, 1 cup water and 1 tablespoon fresh, pesticide-free lavender blossoms (you can also use a tsp of dried ones, found in many health food stores) in a small pot. Bring it to a boil and simmer for 1 minute or until sugar dissolves. Remove it from the heat and let it steep for 30 minutes. Strain out solids and store the mixture in the refrigerator for up to a week.

photo courtesy Honey Salt

photo courtesy Honey Salt

Hangover Helper

Recipe courtesy of Honey Salt, Las Vegas, Nevada

Created in honor of the tenth anniversary of the movie The Hangover, this drink combines the soothing properties of honey, and ginger, mint, plus the rehydrating and refreshing properties of kombucha. The lavender here is introduced via bitters. “The lavender in the bitters has calming properties and adds a beautiful, subtle herbal undertone to the palate,” says Victoria Levin, director of project management at Blau + Associates.

Muddle mint, ginger and honey syrup in a cocktail shaker. Add gin and juices and shake until well chilled. Add the kombucha and bitters and stir until well chilled. Strain over fresh ice and garnish with mint leaves and candied ginger.

courtesy The Light Horse

courtesy The Light Horse

The Gineral

Recipe courtesy of The Light Horse, Alexandria, VA

Part of the restaurant’s Joint Chiefs cocktail menu that salutes every branch of the armed forces, this cocktail was created by partner (and retired Marine) Kevin Penn. “Lavender adds a floral, botanical taste and scent to drinks,” he says. Less is always more to prevent it from tasting like your grandma’s toiletries. As for why the garnish is a lone pick with nothing on it? Because Marines always have to go without.

  • 1 oz dry gin (the bar uses Silverback Distillery Strange Monkey Gin)

  • ½ oz elderflower liqueur (such as St. Germain, silver medal winner in the 2019 NY International Spirits Competition)

  • 1 oz Capri Sun Pacific Cooler

  • ½ house made sour mix (equal parts simple syrup, fresh lemon juice and fresh lime juice)

  • 4 dashes lavender bitters

  • Plastic sword pick, for garnish

Add all ingredients except garnish to a cocktail shaker, add ice and shake until well-chilled. Strain into a chilled coupe and garnish with the plastic sword pick.

Day at the Races

Recipe courtesy of Hell or High Water, Louisville, Kentucky

courtesy Hell or High Water

courtesy Hell or High Water

This modern variant on the Mint Julep uses a house made peach lavender cordial for fruity floral flavor. (You can use leftovers in everything from Champagne cocktails to ice cream parfaits to a sauce drizzled over peach pie.) “Lavender brings a very floral flavor component to the recipe,” says beverage director Matt Brown. “[And] a beautiful color and aroma to the glass.”

  • 2 oz bourbon

  • 1 ½ oz peach lavender cordial (instructions follow)

  • ½ oz demerara syrup

  • 10 fresh mint leaves

  • Lavender flowers, orange blossom water and mint sprigs, for garnish

Add the bourbon, peach cordial and 5 mint sprigs to a cocktail shaker, add ice and shake until well chilled. Add the syrup and 5 mint leaves to the bottom of a julep glass, fill the glass with crushed ice and strain the contents of the shaker on top. Sprinkle lavender flowers on the ice, add a sprig of mint and spray 2 spritzes of orange blossom water.

Peach Lavender Cordial

Add ½ cup sugar, 1 quart water, ¼ cup coriander, 1 cup fresh, pesticide-free lavender flowers (or 1 tablespoon dried), ½ tsp. Himalayan pink salt and the rind of an orange to a pot. Bring the mixture to a simmer on low heat, then add ½ cup peach liqueur. Let the alcohol boil out for 5 minutes, remove from the heat and add ½ bunch fresh mint and 1 ½ cups more peach liqueur. Stir, let cool, strain out solids and store in the refrigerator for up to several weeks.

April in Paris

Recipe courtesy of Parker Restaurant and Bar, Kansas City, MO

“This little purple flower will immediately transport you to a beautiful garden in spring,” says Angela Lopez, food and beverage manager for The Fontaine. “The drink reminds you of sunshine, fresh herbs, spring flowers and the gorgeous sunny warm days,” she says. “Lavender has pleasant notes of earthiness [and] slight bitter tones with a whisper of floral aromatics.” 

courtesy Parker Restaurant & Bar

courtesy Parker Restaurant & Bar

  • 2 oz lavender-infused vodka (instructions follow), or use a lavender gin, such as Springfield Manor Lavender Gin, double gold medal in the 2019 NYISC

  • ½ oz elderflower liqueur

  • ½ oz lemon juice

  • ½ oz hibiscus syrup (instructions follow)

  • ¼ oz IPA syrup (instructions follow)

  • 3 drops rosewater

  • 1 oz egg white

  • Fresh flower, for garnish

Add the vodka, elderflower liqueur, lemon juice, hibiscus syrup, IPA syrup and rosewater to a cocktail shaker, add ice and shake for 15 seconds. Using a fine mesh strainer, strain the mixture into a new shaker, add the egg whites, shake for 15 seconds and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a fresh flower.

Lavender-infused Vodka

Add 1 tablespoon dried lavender to 1 liter of vodka. Cover and let set for 3 hours, stirring occasionally. Once the vodka turns to a light lilac color, strain out solids through a fine mesh sieve back into the bottle, and store in the refrigerator.

Hibiscus Syrup

Combine 1 cup sugar and 2 cups water in a saucepan. Bring it to a boil, remove it from the heat and add 1 cup dried hibiscus petals. Let steep for 30 minutes; once it’s a deep burgundy color, strain out the solids, funnel into a bottle and store in the refrigerator.

IPA Syrup

Combine 16 oz IPA style beer and 1 cup sugar in a saucepan. Bring it to a boil, remove it from the heat and let cool. Store in the refrigerator for up to a week.