“Dandelion wine. The words were summer on the tongue. The wine was summer caught and stoppered… row upon row, with the soft gleam of flowers opened at morning, with the light of this June sun glowing through a faint skin of dust, would stand the dandelion wine.” -Ray Bradbury, Dandelion Wine
In the never-ending gray of Northwest winters, a glass of summer can be a welcome refresher. Though not dandelion wine*, locally grown lavender infused simple syrup can transport us back to warmer, brighter days in the same magical manner. Lavender syrup is delicious drizzled over pancakes, sweetening tea, or adding an aromatic twist to the classic Lemon Drop.
For culinary purposes, lavender bushes should be free from pesticides. There are many U-Pick farms in Oregon (oregonlavenderdestinations.com) and dried lavender keeps beautifully in a dark pantry. If possible, go early in the day and before the buds have opened. This will ensure the most aromatic, flavorful harvest.
Lavender Simple Syrup:
1 c (120g) sugar
1 c (235ml) water
1-2 T (25g) dried lavender buds, loose or in loose leaf tea bag
Heat water and sugar together in small saucepan over medium heat. When mixture reaches a boil, remove from heat and add lavender. Steep 15 minutes and allow to cool before transferring to glass container. Lavender may be strained out after steeping, or may remain in syrup until bottling.
Lavender Lemon Drop:
2 oz (60ml) vodka
1 oz (30ml) fresh lemon juice
1 oz (30ml) lavender simple syrup
1/2 oz (15ml) triple sec or Cointreau
Optional rimming sugar:
1/2 c (60g) sugar
1 T (12g) dried lavender
Pulse sugar and lavender in a food processor or spice grinder until fine but not powdered, then rim a chilled cocktail glass.
Shake vodka, lemon juice, syrup, and triple sec vigorously with ice and strain immediately into prepared glass.
Toast to Ray Bradbury, and to golden afternoons. “Peer through it at the wintry day- the snow melted to grass… color sky from iron to blue. Hold summer in your hand, pour summer in a glass.”
*Though this is a cocktail-focused blog, Wild Wines of Jacksonville OR does make a dandelion wine for those curious.