My adventures with Limoncello started me down a very deep rabbit hole of flavored Vodkas. I looked at so many recipes and ideas, but when the time came for my next adventure it was a no brainer: Lavender. I LOVE LAVENDER. And with good reason… the smell alone will relax me into a night of slumber. But, I also love to drink it… I love LOVE that taste. So yes, Lavender was the next experiment.
There aren’t a lot of liquors or liqueurs made from lavender. Well not in the states that is. I found plenty in France, but I am not IN France. I looked at several recipes and blogs online, but they were all mostly reviews of drinks that had lavender vodka in them. SO now what? Experiment of course.
I figured it would probably be the same basic steps as Limoncello… good Vodka and lavender. But, what I didn’t know was how long I needed to let it sit, what type of lavender to use, and most of all would it even taste good? I also assumed that because lavender is more delicate than lemon peels that it would be wise not to let the flowers steep for the 1 month time like limoncello. But, there was no hard and fast rule I could find. Some places said an hour and others three weeks. So I decided I’d give it at least the day and see what happens.
Although first let me take a quick step back and talk about the lavender I chose for this project. A friend of mine has a bunch of different types of lavender growing in her garden. I had no clue however which would be the best choice or if using fresh would be better than dried food grade lavender from the store. She had given me a few buds for the Lavender Dreams cocktail, but it wasn’t enough for an entire container of Lavender Vodka. So now what?
I looked online for options… but that would take a few days to arrive and I was impatient. So I called around to a bunch of health foodie stores in LA looking to find it local. That was a headache. Everyone had it in teas that were mixed with other things, but none with just plain lavender. Someone suggested buying it from Michael’s, but those are NOT food grade bags of lavender. I don’t suggest using that. Ultimately, I found it at Sprout’s grocery stores. They sell it in the bulk seasonings aisle. I bought a ton of it for only $1. I used 4 tablespoons for this recipe…and kept the rest to make lavender tea at night.
I decided I would simply steep the lavender in vodka until it 1) tasted like lavender, but 2) before it tasted like bad potpourri. How long would that take? No clue.
Day 1: I used a sterilized 4 Cup mason jar. I filled it to the top with the same Vodka I used in the Lavender Dreams cocktail and 4 Tbsp lavender buds. Put on the little airtight top and waited. At the end of day one… tasted 99% like vodka, but the color was changing to a darker color. So there was progress visually, but not so much taste wise.
Day 2: The Vodka was now an interesting color –not quite lavender and not quite brown– but rather something in between. The taste was definitely beginning to move in the floral direction, but not necessarily distinctly “lavender”.
Day 3: The color has deepened even more… now somewhere much closer to brown. I considered adding some blueberries to make it more of a purple again, but decided to hold off. The taste is more distinctly lavender. But, it still tasted of Vodka. So I didn’t know if I should stop it there or give it a little longer. I chose to give it one more day.
Day 4: I opened the jar and immediately I could smell the lavender. The taste was strong, but exactly what I had hoped for. So hooray! It worked. But, it wasn’t gonna end there. I needed to mellow this puppy out and make it a liqueur (IE more sugar needed) to make it more palatable. So, I strained out ALL of the lavender buds (set them aside) and then split the contents into two jars and added ½ of simple syrup to both. Then I put it back in a cabinet for a week.
Day 11: NOW this is delicious! I wouldn’t drink it straight… it’s not my type of thing. So I added a shot into freshly squeezed lemonade. It was AMAZING! The lavender is definitely strong enough flavor to pop out of the strong lemon taste, and gave a delicate finish.
This will definitely be a wonderful treat over the summer. I can see it now… sitting outside on a warm evening sipping a lavender lemonade or peach lavender kombucha. I also wonder how it would work with some peach or mango nectar. The possibilities are endless…and I will definitely be enjoying each and every concoction.
Give it a try and let me know what you think.
PS I have some lavender limoncello brewing as we speak. Waiting to hear how that experiment plays out. LOL