It’s not hard to love lavender, with its sweet scent and beautiful soft purple blossoms. We have a huge more-or-less overgrowing lavender bush in our front yard. In June and early July, it’s bustling with bees and the fragrance is intoxicating. As we live right downtown in Ashland, there’s a lot of foot traffic along the sidewalk in front of our home. This particular overgrown, wildly reaching lavender beckons folks to pick a sprig here and there. One new experience this year that our lavender apparently instilled as I looked on from our front porch, included two grown women who stretched their arms wide, crouched to their knees, and took in a full frontal brushing from our [poor] sweet smelling lavender bush. It was very dramatic (although I suppose living in a town known for its nearly year-round Shakespeare Festival, that isn’t entirely surprising).
That aside, one other thing I was excited to learn about lavender not too long ago, was the culinary purposes it could provide. Lavender ice cream was my introduction and it was thoroughly delightful. Fragrant, floral, sweet. Perfect in a creamy ice cream. Most recently I saw a honey simple syrup that had included lavender steeped in it and instantly my mind went to cocktail hour. While I tend to prefer a drink that isn’t overly sweet, the balance of the following syrup and the rich warmth of bourbon works nicely. This is a great drink for the end of the week (or whenever you prefer) and the recipe is easy to double, or triple, if you’re preparing drinks for someone other than yourself (or merely find yourself really thirsty).
Lavender Vanilla Bourbon Cocktail
Yields one drink, for one lady or sir. Easily doubled.
For the honey lavender vanilla simple syrup:
1 cup water
3/4 cup honey
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
3 tablespoons culinary grade lavender
For the cocktail:
1 ounce of the above simple syrup
2-3 ounces of good quality bourbon (Knob Creek is my preferred)
1/2 a lime, squeezed
4 ounces ginger ale
ice and slice of lime for serving
Make your simple syrup:
In a small pot, combine the water, honey, and sugar. Stir over medium-high heat until the honey and sugar completely disintegrates. Add the vanilla bean (scraped insides and the pod as well) and lavender, stirring to submerge them into the liquid. Bring to a low boil for 10-15 minutes, then cover and remove from heat. Cool to room temperature. Strain the syrup, removing the vanilla bean pod and the lavender. Keep refrigerated in a covered bottle for up to a week.
In a highball glass, or your preferred glass, fill with ice. Add the simple syrup, bourbon, lime juice, and ginger ale. Stir until well combined. Add a slice of lime for garnish and drink IMMEDIATELY ;)