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Lavender Simple Syrup Recipe | Wine Enthusiast

Lavender Simple Syrup Recipe | Wine Enthusiast

With all the edible flowers and botanicals infused into cocktails, tossed into salads and adorning seafood crudo, it feels as if bars and restaurant dining rooms are in full bloom. As the Institute of Food Technologists forecast last fall, culinary uses of edible flowers and botanicals are indeed having a big year on food and drink menus, with lavender leading the charge. 

A ubiquitous ingredient native to the Mediterranean that blooms in spring and summer across numerous U.S. states, lavender’s enchanting and soothing aromas feature often in soaps and candles. But its upward trend on menus in recent years is perhaps thanks to its delicate, fresh flavor. It’s well-suited to boozy and non-alcoholic cocktails alike—when used with care, of course. 

The little purple buds’ purported health benefits, like promoting relaxation and reducing stress, also align with swelling demand for ingredients with functional properties that promote holistic health and reflect growing interest in thoughtful, spirit-free beverage options. 

“People are increasingly drawn to botanical flavors and unique, artisanal ingredients, making lavender syrup especially popular right now,” says Daniel Beedle, assistant food and beverage director of The Forum Hotel in Charlottesville, Virginia. “Lavender has such a calming effect and its aromatics seem to always spark memories of summer.” 

How to Use Lavender in Cocktails

One of the easiest ways to add lavender to a cocktail is through an infused syrup. 

Beedle likes lavender’s light, herbaceous and almost minty aromas as a complement to botanical gin, neutral vodka and citrusy, brioche-like Champagne. In the soaring NA beverage realm, lavender is a terrific partner to citrus juices, strawberries and blackberries. It also complements floral waters, teas and woodsy, earthy botanicals like rosemary, sage and fiery black pepper. 

Lavender co-stars in The Aspen, the namesake cocktail at The Forum hotel’s Aspen Bar. It’s made with honeyed Bar Hill Gin, Chartreuse-like Dolin Genepi le Chamois Liqueur, lemon juice, lavender-honey syrup and fresh thyme. It’s also one of Beedle’s favorite cocktails to make when he’s entertaining at home. 

In addition, Beedle deploys lavender syrup in a citrusy-sweet NA Ramos Gin Fizz, which also features orange juice, heavy cream, a few drops of orange blossom water and a prickly topper of soda water.  

Lavender syrup is a favorite on cafe menus, too, for the sweet, floral complexity it adds to espresso and steamed milk drinks. For instance, the Chicago coffee bar Ipsento features a signature Lavender Honey Latte, which features house-made lavender syrup and honey. And even Starbucks has gotten in on the trend: This March, it debuted lavender-infused latte, Frappuccino and matcha drinks.

How to Make Lavender Syrup

Steeping aromatic lavender flowers into a syrup with sugar or honey diffuses their potent flavor and tames their propensity to lean soapy and bitter when overused. Yet even in syrup form, bartenders recommend caution. 

“Start with small amounts—like 1/4 to 1/2 ounce—and adjust to taste,” advises Ana Paula Moraes, head bartender at The Bastion Collection hospitality group.

At Michelin-starred French restaurant Le Jardinier and the cocktail lounge Bar Bastion, both in New York, Moraes dribbles lavender syrup into the French 53 cocktail, which riffs on the classic French 75. She also recommends serving lavender drinks in elegant glassware so that it showcases “the soft color and clarity of the drink.” 

“When using lavender in cocktails, my tip would be to keep in mind who the main character is,” says bartender and mixologist Candice Coy, who’s also the market development manager for Le Moné aperitifs. “Lavender is a lovely supporting actress that behaves distinctly with different spirits, so change your usage accordingly.” 

Even so, it’s more versatile than one might think, Coy says. She encourages drinkers to whip up a large batch of lavender syrup and start experimenting. She’s used it to lighten up a spicy, bold rye in a Final Ward and to add a floral twist to a French 75 made with Le Moné and a blackberry-lavender shrub. “Lavender makes magic happen everywhere,” she says.

Lavender-Honey Syrup

From Daniel Beedle, The Forum Hotel, Charlottesville, Virginia.

  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 15 grams dried lavender
  • 1 quart honey

Step 1

Combine boiling water and lavender and let steep for 5 minutes.

Step 2

Straining Lavender Syrup


Step 3

Stirring Lavender Syrup

While the water is still hot, mix in the honey and stir until dissolved.

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