Back in the Elizabethan times, when baths weren't common practice, lavender was used to perfume clothes and bed linen.
There is a legend that Cleopatra wore a lavender scent to seduce Mark Antony and Julius Caesar. This I can believe, there is something about the scent of lavender that is so incredibly transfixing and the flavor, I find, is just intoxicating, pardon the pun.
One of my favorite ingredients in the spring and summer is fresh lavender from my garden. The moment the weather starts to warm, I am back out in my garden, cleaning and coaxing my cocktail herbs to wake up an come back to life. In the fall and winter I mostly rely on my spice rack, dried herbs, roots and flowers and tinctures that were set aside at the end of summer.
So when the lavender begins to bud, I begin harvesting, drying bunches and making big batches of lavender syrup for cocktails and it's a fairly simple process.
First, gently remove the buds from the stems by pulling in the opposite direction from their growth. Try and begin with one 1/2 cup of buds. Place them in a medium size pot with just a few teaspoons of water and let sit on low heat until you can really smell the fragrance, we have now coaxed out the oils. Add 1.5 cups of water and allow to simmer on medium heat for about 10 minutes. Strain out the buds, keep the water in the pot, add 3 cups of sugar and allow to simmer on medium until all sugar is dissolved. Cool the syrup and store in a large glass jar or multiple glass bottles in your fridge for up to 3-4 weeks.
Now, what could be better to pair with lavender in a cocktail for the summertime than peach? Nuthin I say!
So here is the recipe for one of my summertime staples;
Lavender & Peach Old Fashioned
1.5 ounces of Uncle Nearest 1856 whiskey
.5 ounce of lavender syrup
.5 ounce of peach brandy (I recommend either Leopold Brothers or Rothman & Winter Orchard Peach Liqueur)
2 dashes aromatic bitters (Fee Brothers or Angostura)
Stir well with ice, strain over a king cube in an old fashioned glass, garnish with a lavender sprig.
Cheers to beautiful earthy flavors, floral fragrances and fresh ingredients. Enjoy!