Lavender is a versatile herb that can add a lovely floral aroma and flavor to cocktails. The dried flowers and leaves bring a light, perfumed note while the subtle bitterness plays well with spirits, citrus and sweeteners. Lavender has become increasingly popular in mixology, used in everything from gin and vodka drinks to sparkling wine cocktails. Read on to learn how to make the most of lavender in creative cocktails.
What does lavender taste like?
Lavender has a distinctive floral, slightly sweet, herbaceous taste and aroma. The flowers and leaves deliver perfumed notes reminiscent of lilac and rose, while the plant’s subtle camphoraceous qualities provide an interesting herbaceous bitterness. Lavender’s flavor profile is versatile, complementing citrus, berries, stone fruits, apples, melons, figs, cheeses, eggs, fish, lamb, pork, duck, chicken, wine, champagne and tea.
What drinks can you make with lavender?
Lavender’s adaptable flavor allows it to be used in all sorts of cocktails. The pretty purple flowers look beautiful as a garnish and the aromatics infuse drinks in intriguing ways. Lavender pairs nicely with gin, vodka, rum, tequila, champagne and wine. It brings out the crispness of citrus, complements berry flavors and adds interest to sweet ingredients like honey and maple syrup. Lavender is delightful muddled in lemonade or iced tea. It can be used to make fragrant simple syrups, shrubs, infusions and bitters.
Some popular lavender cocktails include:
- Lavender lemon drop – vodka, lemon juice, lavender simple syrup
- Lavender mojito – rum, lime, mint, lavender simple syrup
- Lavender gimlet – gin, lime juice, lavender simple syrup
- Lavender martini – gin or vodka, dry vermouth, lavender bitters
- Lavender gin fizz – gin, lemon juice, lavender simple syrup, soda water
- Lavender spritz – prosecco, lavender syrup, club soda
- Lavender Greyhound – vodka, grapefruit juice, lavender bitters
- Lavender margarita – tequila, lime juice, lavender simple syrup
- Lavender Manhattan – rye whiskey, sweet vermouth, lavender bitters
- Lavender Collins – gin, lemon juice, lavender simple syrup, club soda
What kind of lavender works best for cocktails?
English lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) and French lavender (Lavandula dentata) are the best culinary varieties for use in cocktails and cooking. Avoid using ornamental lavender species which can have unpleasant flavors. The dried buds and flowers of English and French lavender contain the sweetest, most nuanced aromatics. Use food grade, organically grown lavender from a reputable source.
Does fresh or dried lavender work better?
Both fresh and dried lavender can be used succesfully in cocktails, each providing their own merits. Fresh lavender has a more pronounced floral aroma, which is released when muddled or shaken in drinks. The flavor of fresh lavender is more delicate. Dried lavender has a more concentrated, perfumey fragrance which infuses strongly into simple syrups, shrubs, bitters and infusions. Dried lavender maintains its potency well over time. Using some fresh lavender flowers as a cocktail garnish provides an extra pop of aroma and beauty.
What’s the best way to use lavender in cocktails?
There are several techniques for getting the most flavor and fragrance out of lavender:
Muddle fresh lavender
Muddling lightly bruises fresh lavender to release essential oils and aroma. Place a few fresh sprigs or flowers in the bottom of a cocktail shaker and gently mash with a muddler or wooden spoon before adding the remaining ingredients.
Make lavender simple syrup
This versatile syrup infuses the flavor of lavender into drinks. Add dried lavender (about 1/4 cup per 2 cups of water) into simmering simple syrup or steep the lavender in heated simple syrup for up to an hour before straining out the flowers.
Create lavender sugar
Leaving dried lavender to infuse in sugar draws out the floral essence. Layer dried buds and flowers in a jar, cover with sugar, seal and leave for a week before straining out the lavender.
Infuse lavender into liquids
The flavor of dried lavender can be extracted by infusing it into alcohols, vinegars, teas, lemonade and more. Cover dried lavender with the liquid and allow to steep anywhere from a few hours to a couple of weeks depending on desired intensity.
Make lavender bitters
Lavender’s herbal, floral notes make it an exciting addition to cocktail bitters. Steep dried lavender with other herbs, spices and citrus peels in high proof alcohol for weeks before straining and bottling.
What are some tips for using lavender in cocktails?
- Use about 1 tsp of dried lavender per cup of liquid when making simple syrups or infusions.
- Add lavender in the last few minutes when infusing hot liquids to prevent bitterness.
- Citrus juices help extract the flavors of fresh lavender when muddling.
- Only gently muddle fresh lavender to avoid bitterness.
- Dried lavender buds have the best flavor, but the flowers can be used too.
- Start with small amounts of lavender when recipe testing, it’s easy to add more.
- Substitute 1 tbsp of lavender simple syrup for 1 tbsp of regular simple syrup in cocktail recipes.
- A little lavender goes a long way, use too much and it can taste soapy.
- Add a fresh lavender sprig or flowers to drinks for aroma and beauty.
What cocktails pair well with lavender?
Lavender’s multifaceted flavor allows it to complement a diverse range of ingredients in cocktails:
Bright lemon, lime, grapefruit and orange pair deliciously with lavender. Citrus adds freshness and helps extract lavender’s essence.
The floral notes of elderflower, chamomile, rose and violet liqueurs are enhanced by lavender.
Floral gins like Hendrick’s are perfect for lavender cocktails. The herbaceous spirit embraces lavender’s aromatic qualities.
Vodka’s neutrality allows lavender’s flavor to shine. It’s delicious in floral infused vodka martinis and lemondrops.
In mojitos and daquiris, lavender’s delicate bitterness offsets rum’s sweetness.
Lavender tempers tequila nicely in margaritas, palomas and fresher style drinks.
Lavender is sensational with prosecco, champagne and cava. It brings fresh complexity to mimosas too.
Lavender and berries like blackberries, raspberries and strawberries are a match made in heaven.
Mint, basil, rosemary and thyme accentuate lavender’s herbal qualities in summery cocktails.
Lavender pairs tastily with teas like Earl Grey, chamomile and rooibos in cocktail recipes.
What are the most popular lavender cocktails?
These lavender cocktail recipes are among the most beloved:
Muddle fresh lavender and lemon, shake with lemonade and ice, double strain into a glass. Garnish with lavender.
Stir gin, lavender syrup, lemon juice and shake with ice. Strain into a flute and top with champagne.
Lavender Gin Fizz
Shake gin, lemon juice, lavender syrup with ice. Strain into a highball filled with soda water. Garnish with lavender.
Combine prosecco, lavender syrup and club soda in a wine glass filled with ice. Garnish with lavender.
Muddle mint and lavender, add rum, lime juice, lavender syrup and soda water. Shake and double strain over fresh ice.
Stir gin or vodka, dry vermouth and lavender bitters with ice. Strain into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with lavender.
Stir lavender syrup into champagne and fresh orange juice. Garnish with lavender.
What lavender cocktails are best for weddings?
Here are some lovely lavender cocktails perfect for weddings:
Lavender French 75
A sparkling gin cocktail freshened with lemon and lavender.
Champagne and white peach juice with muddled lavender.
English Lavender Gin and Tonic
Floral gin paired with lavender tonic water.
The English Garden
Gin, elderflower liqueur, cucumber, mint, lemon and lavender.
Vodka, grapefruit and lavender bitters for a pop of color.
Lavender Lemon Drop
Vodka, lemon and lavender syrup create a pastel yellow cocktail.
Lavender Gin Rickey
Gin, lime juice, lavender simple and soda over crushed ice.
Elegant, floral and easy to make in batches.
The Tom Collins classic freshened up with bright lavender notes.
The Lavender Gimlet
Vibrant purple cocktail with floral gin and lime.
What are some fun ways to garnish lavender cocktails?
Creative lavender garnishes can take cocktails to the next level visually. Here are some pretty ideas:
- Fresh lavender sprigs
- Lavender flowers
- Dehydrated lavender blossoms
- Lavender syrup drizzle on foam
- Crystallized lavender
- Sugared lavender buds
- Lavender leaves
- Lavender powder
- Lavender syrup spiral
- Dried lavender in ice cubes
With its light and lovely floral flavor, lavender has become a popular cocktail ingredient. The herb’s versatile aromatics allow it to complement a wide range of spirits, juices, liqueurs and syrups. Lavender cocktails please the eye as well as the palate, with the colorful purple flowers making a beautiful garnish. Infusing lavender into simple syrups, shrubs and bitters helps impart its fragrance into drinks. Muddling fresh lavender is a great way to quickly release essence and aroma. Lavender’s slightly sweet, herbal taste pairs deliciously with citrus, berries and herbs. Next time you are mixing drinks, consider adding a touch of lavender into your cocktails.