Local Lavender Becomes Drinkable
These recipes and notes are from a wonderful new book called Edible Cocktails: From Garden to Glass – Seasonal Cocktails with a Fresh Twist by Natalie Bovis, the Liquid Muse, F+W Media, April 2012.
Fresh herbs bring aroma, taste, color and uniqueness to cocktails. They can be muddled, cooked into syrups or preserves, infused directly into spirits, used as garnishes, or even set afire and tossed into the shaker to add a smoky quality to the drink. This drink recipe is a delicious guideline for you to start thinking about coming up with your own herbal concoctions with whatever is seasonal in your area, any time of the year.
*see Lavender Gin Sour recipe
Most liquids can be used to make delicious syrups and you can experiment to make your syrups even more impressive. Whether you choose tea, fruit juice or even wine, all sorts of flavorful liquids mixed with a sweetening agent add aroma, sugar and depth to a cocktail. The following recipe shows you how to create a delicious syrup to use in cooking and cocktails. Feel free to substitute your own favorite ripe fruits, fresh herbs or exotic teas for those suggested below to come up with your own specialty syrups.
Fresh Herb Syrups
If you want your herbal syrups to be more pungent, put healthy amounts of plucked leaves into the saucepan with equal parts sugar and water. If you prefer a more subtle flavor, you can adjust the recipes by using a smaller quantity of herbs according to your taste. One rule to keep in mind when muddling herbs directly into cocktails or cooking them into syrups is not to include the plant stem. It adds an unpleasant bitterness that can be avoided by using only the leaves and flowers of an edible plant.
*see Lavender-Rosemary Syrup recipe
Rimming Sugars and Salts
If you are a margarita lover, you are used to being asked if you would like a salt rim on your glass. If you appreciate the taste that a touch of salt brings to tequila and lime, then by all means, go for it – and get creative with your own salty drink rims. If you are more inclined to skip the salty stuff and lean instead toward sweeter drinks, then you may migrate more toward a sugar-based rimmer for all sorts of cocktails, from spirit-based to sparkling. Sweet, sugar-based rimmers incorporate fresh herbs, fruits and flowers. Try them with cocktails and desserts – and feel free to adjust the ratios of ingredients to suit your taste buds.
*see Lavender Sugar Rim recipe
Other Great Garnish Ideas
Garnishes are a great place to get creative with ingredients that bring something special to a drink. Beyond citrus garnishes and rimmers, there are a few other outside-the-box ideas such as this lavender sprig.
*see Candied Lavender Sprigs recipe
We buy Arizona-grown lavender from Red Rock Ranch and Farms near St. Johns in the White Mountains. They offer internet ordering, or visit the ranch during the lavender festival (from June 21 to July 1 this year) for culinary lavender, lavender plants (including unusual varieties) and lavender home and body products.