Gin and Lavender Lemonade May be Your New Favorite Cocktail
One aspect of recipe creation that I’ve always enjoyed is building flavors around what is in season. Incorporating seasonal flavors helps avoid reusing the same recipes and showcases the freshest flavors. While I enjoy all seasons, New England summers offer some of the best flavors to incorporate into recipes. It’s the prime time of year for picking fresh berries, access to local farmers’ markets, and taking advantage of backyard herb gardens. So, if you have lavender growing in your backyard or spot bunches at your next market visit, now is the time to put the buds to use! Fresh lemonade is a summer icon, but when infused with lavender and paired with Empress® gin, the flavor is a game changer.
Lavender Takes Lemonade to a New Level
Lemonade is a summer classic that creates the perfect balance of sweet, tart, and refreshing. While lemonade is simple in ingredients, everyone has a favorite blend, much like coffee. For some, it’s a restaurant’s lemonade recipe, a preferred brand at the grocery store, or a specific ratio when brewing at home. You’re in for a flavor explosion if you’ve never tried lavender lemonade before. Lavender adds a floral layer to the flavor profile and balances the sweet and tart base flavors perfectly. This recipe blends the world of herbal tea, lemonade, and mixology into a perfect summer cocktail. The first step is to brew the lemonade.
How to Brew Lemonade
Most homemade lemonade recipes begin in a pot, combining a small portion of the total water needed with sugar and possibly honey. The mixture is heated to dissolve the sugar, creating a simple syrup. Once the sugar dissolves, add the remaining water and lemon juice. When making lavender lemonade, lavender buds are added to the simple syrup when warm and covered with a lid to steep. Steeping pulls the flavor out of the lavender, and the longer the syrup steeps, it creates a more robust lavender flavor. Once steeped, the syrup is strained and added to the remaining ingredients. It’s an easy process, and the brewing time is well worth the flavor!
- ⅓ cup honey
- ⅓ cup granulated sugar
- 4 Tbsp. dried lavender buds
- 6 cups water divided
- 2 cups lemon juice
- 20 oz. Empress <sup>®</sup> gin optional
Creating the simple syrup
- In a small saucepan, combine 2 cups water, sugar, and honey.
- Over medium-low heat, warm the syrup until the sugar and honey dissolve, about ten minutes. Remove from heat, add the lavender buds, and stir to combine. Cover with a tight-fitting lid to steep the syrup.
- Steep the syrup for at least an hour, and up to four hours for a stronger lavender flavor.
- Once the desired strength of lavender is reached, strain the syrup through a mesh sieve.
Mixing the Lemonade
- Once the syrup has been strained, combine the syrup, remaining water, and lemon juice.
How to create a layered gin lavender lemonade
- In each glass, pour 6 ounces of lemonade.
- Add ice to each cup, either cubed or crushed. For the best layers, ensure the ice fills the surface of the lemonade without spaces between the ice.
- For each cocktail, measure out 1.5 to 2 ounces of Empress
<sup>®</sup> gin. Gently pour the gin on top of the ice.
- Serve immediately, with a cocktail stirrer to mix prior to drinking.
What Is Empress® Gin?
Empress® Gin is one of my favorite indigo gins to use when mixing cocktails at home, not only for the flavor but the color as well! Butterfly pea blossoms are what provide the unique color without needing artificial colors! Featuring empress tea, juniper, grapefruit peel, coriander, cinnamon bark, rose petals, and ginger, Empress® Gin is the perfect mixer for lavender lemonade. The lavender and floral notes in the gin complement each other well and balance with the lemon. Crafting lavender lemonades with Empress® gin also creates a visually striking cocktail. Serve with a cocktail stirrer, and once mixed, the cocktail turns not a shade of blue-green but pink! There’s a bit of science as to why, and it may sound familiar.
Butterfly pea blossoms contain anthocyanins, the same flavonoid that provides the color of blood oranges. The anthocyanins will react depending on a mixer’s PH level; acidic mixers create a red color, purple when a mixer is neutral, and blue when a basic mixer, such as cucumber, is added. This adds a layer of experimentation that makes creating cocktails a bit of a science experiment! The next time you are browsing spirits for your home bar or out for cocktails, try Empress®!
How Long Can Fresh Lavender Lemonade Last?
One false sense of security with lemonade in terms of shelf life is the citric acid present in the lemon juice. However, even with citric acid, bacteria can still grow. In addition, store-bought lemonade contains preservatives that extend the shelf-life. While homemade lemonade has a much shorter shelf life, you enjoy the best flavors, not artificial ingredients or preservatives. For the most extended shelf life, keep homemade lemonade stored refrigerated in an air-tight container for no more than seven days. If lemonade remains out of refrigeration for more than 6 hours, discard the lemonade. Lemonade can also be frozen for three months if stored in an air-tight container.