Lavender Lemonade—inspired by a long-ago lady lunch
Years and years ago, my mom took me for a lovely “lady lunch” at Pickity Place, an old red house in the woods of New Hampshire that served as the inspiration for an illustrated edition of Little Red Riding Hood. I remember a delicious lunch in a charming setting, but what I really remember is the Lavender Lemonade. I’d never tasted anything like it—floral and light, and oh so refreshing.
You can still go to Pickity Place in Mason, New Hampshire, and other people must love the Lavender Lemonade, too, because I see that it remains on the menu. I just might head out that way again someday soon, but I wanted Lavender Lemonade now, so I made some myself. It’s as lovely and floral as I remember.
As many methods to make lemonade as there are people who make it
There are nearly as many ways to make lemonade as there are people who make it. There’s what I call “tourist lemonade,” where you find stands juicing lemons, dumping in some sugar, and stirring it all up for a simple, if gritty, delight. There’s simple syrup, roasted lemons, and even one where you just cut up lemons and stick them in your stand mixer to beat the ever-loving life out of them. I might try that one someday just for the experience.
I make lemonade by combining a few methods
Given how many methods there are to make lemonade, I’m sure that someone out there makes it the way that I do, but I haven’t found it exactly this way. I chalk this up to the fact that I combine a few different techniques. I started making lemonade this way after making Spiced Lemon-Lime Sorbet (which you should make, by the way, because it’s delicious). As I developed that recipe, I had a couple of bases that didn’t quite work as sorbet, but that most definitely did work in drinks, including making a really good lemonade.
Make a lemon syrup infused with zest
So, what is this method? It’s pretty simple. Instead of making a simple syrup with water, you make a syrup with the lemon juice, after rubbing strips of lemon zest into sugar and leaving it to sit while you squeeze your lemon juice—and you use less sugar proportionately than the 1:1 ratio for simple syrup (1 cup of sugar to 1.5 cups of lemon juice).
Add lavender for a Lemon Lavender Syrup
For this recipe, I added some culinary lavender that I had leftover from Lavender Fudgesicles to the zest and sugar. I dissolved the sugar slowly over low heat, and then steeped everything for fifteen minutes or so as it cooled (you can do longer for a more intense lavender flavor). Once it’s steeped, just strain it, and you’re in business.
Perfect for Lavender Lemonade or cocktails
What you get is a Lavender Lemon Syrup that makes a perfect base for Lavender Lemonade (or cocktails, or whatever else you can think of—seltzer is good). The strips of zest, which you can make quick work of with a vegetable peeler, infuse that wonderful lemon flavor in addition to the tartness of the lemon juice.
If you’ve never had lavender with lemon before, you’re going to love how they complement each other. By using less sugar to make the syrup, you also get a nice tart lemonade (you could experiment with this to see what works best for you, but I like this one). However, it’s just sweet enough that I find myself wanting to guzzle it before I remember that I’m a lady and that Lavender Lemonade is a lady lunch drink.
If you have a little time, chilling the syrup in the fridge is best
As soon as the syrup is cooled, it’s ready to use, but if you have a few hours to refrigerate it, so much the better. When you’re ready to use it, I recommend starting with a roughly 1:4 ratio of Lavender Lemon Syrup to water and then adjusting. You could make a whole pitcher in one go, but I just make it by the glass. The syrup will keep for several days in the fridge, but I doubt it will last this long.
Lavender Lemon Syrup for Lavender Lemonade
- 1 small heavy bottomed sauce pan
- 1 Fine mesh strainer
- 1 vegetable peeler optional, but makes easy and accurate work of zesting the lemons
Lemon Lavender Syrup
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 2 lemons, zest peeled large strips and any white pith removed a vegetable peeler works great for this
- 1 tbsp lavender (culinary)
- 1½ cups lemon juice, fresh squeezed
To Make Lavender Lemonade
- 1 part Lavender Lemon Syrup
- 4 parts Water to taste
- lemon slices and/or lavender stems optional garnish
Make the Lavender Lemon Syrup
- In a heavy bottomed sauce pan (I use Le Creuset), add the sugar and strips of lemon zest. Using your hands, rub the zest into the sugar for about a minute to release the oils. Don't be shy!1 cup granulated sugar, 2 lemons, zest peeled large strips and any white pith removed
- Add the lavender to the sugar and zest mixture and combine with a spoon (you want to release the flavor, but you don't want to have it break up too much). Set aside while you juice your lemons (or, set aside for ten minutes or so if you've already juiced them)1 tbsp lavender (culinary)
- Roll the lemons to help loosen up the juice and juice lemons until you have 1½ cups of juice1½ cups lemon juice, fresh squeezed
- Add the lemon juice to the sugar mixture and give it a stir. Over very low heat, dissolve the sugar
- When the sugar has dissovled, remove from heat and cover. Allow to steep as the mixture cools for at least fifteen minutes. Taste it. You should taste the lavender, but it shouldn't overpower
- Using a fine mesh strainer, strain out the solids. As soon as it is cool, it is ready to use, but it does benefit from a few hours in the fridge. You'll have about 1½-1¾ cups of syrup
To Make Lavender Lemonade
- In a glass with ice, start with 1 part Lavender Lemon Syrup to 4 parts water. Adjust to your liking, and garnish with lemon slices and/or lavender flowers. Best enjoyed outdoors1 part Lavender Lemon Syrup, 4 parts Water, lemon slices and/or lavender stems
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