The mere hint of lavender sends me into a world of utter and complete bliss. It invokes such an overwhelming calm that I generally forget everything else momentarily and I am suddenly able to just BE IN THE MOMENT. In Southern California, lavender grows happily and aggressively, (sometimes into the size of a VW Beetle!). I doubt that there could be anything better than combining the inherent calming properties of lavender with the equally relaxing properties of alcohol, (booze), making for the quintessential pool-side lazy-day drink. A match made in lavender colored heaven.
So, when my friend, Harriet, began telling me about her recent weekender to Palm Springs, I had to stop her mid-story, when she casually mentioned being served lavender mojitos, pool-side. WAIT! STOP!! "lavender mojitos... pool-side", and thus I immediately began my research. The New York Times has a lovely recipe which I tried this past weekend with the most pleasant result. Harriet happened to be coming over, so I had an experienced and willing participant to help me try this out. The result was even more delicious than I could have expected - although we all thought it a bit too sweet - like drinking candy. (However, she said they were much better than hers in Palm Springs : ) So, after a few minor tweaks to the original recipe, I believe this has to be the most wonderful libation ever to exist. The essence of lavender and a slightly sweet syrupy body, muddled with mint and lime juice, (and rum, of course), with just a splash or two of soda water - is the perfect summer-time cocktail.
You must first make a lavender syrup, (simple syrup infused with lavender flowers and rose water), which can be enjoyed alone with soda water or modestly added to champagne - it will keep in the fridge for about 2 weeks.
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup dried lavender flowers*
2 ounces rose water
Bring water and sugar to a simmer, add lavender flowers and rose water, simmer until sugar is dissolved (about 3 minutes) take away from heat and allow to steep for another 5-10 minutes. Strain, pressing flowers to extract all liquid, and allow syrup to cool completely. Store in fridge for about 2 weeks.
Yields about 1.5 cups
1 part lavender simple syrup (see above)
2 (or 3) parts white rum
juice of 1 lime
about 5-10 mint leaves
splash of soda water (or if you can find it, DRY: lavender soda - I buy mine at Whole Foods)
In the bottom of a tall glass, muddle mint leaves with syrup and lime juice. Add ice and rum and top with a splash of soda water. Adjust to your liking, either by adding more syrup, lime, rum, etc. Garnish with mint and if you have lavender growing, a tall lavender stem from the garden.
Yields 1 drink