OR DIY Joins the Lavender Mafia (and you thought that was just a right wing myth!)
There is a very wonderful man named Robert who runs the cocktail bar at the Rose of Australia Hotel, next to the train station at Erskineville in Sydney’s inner west. This is, by the way, my favourite pub in Sydney and I cannot speak highly enough about the beer battered fries or the staff.
But Robert is extra special. He’s like a cocktail whisperer. The concoctions he brews behind the bar are frothing fantasies of fruity flavour and his wicked sense of humour can be glimpsed in the cheeky appellations he bestows upon his creations.
If you happen to be in there, do say hello from the Russian and I.
Some of the neatest tricks Robert taught us were his infusions. He flavoured spirits with exotic spices and additions. For example, the main ingredient in his Monica Lewinsky is cigar infused vodka. He actually had a vat of Absolut that he would rotate Wee Willam cigars in. Wonderful stuff!
One infusion he didn’t do but which I happily stumbled upon at the Breakfast Creek Hotel in Brisbane was Lavender infused Gin. I don’t believe they do it anymore, but I am rather partial to a bit of Mother's Ruin and I bet you are too so never fear, Dinky DIY is here!
And since I have this periwinkle wild flower on the brain at the moment, I have a whole carpet bag full of lavender blue dilly dilly tricks!
Lavender is a member of the mint family (bet you didn’t know that) and flowers or leaves can be used fresh and both buds and stems can be consumed after drying.
English Lavender is the most commonly used variety in cooking as it’s sweetest. Don’t be buying it from the flower shop and whacking it into anything unless you feel like choking down on persticides, you either have to track down some culinary quality stuff or grow it yourself which is a piece of cake.
- 1 1/2 teaspoons dried lavender
- 1 (750 ml) bottle gin, (naturally I only drink Sapphire Bombay but whatever.)
Add lavender to gin and allow to infuse for 1 day. Strain and store.
- 2 1/2 parts lavender-infused gin
- 2 1/2 parts Vermouth de Provence
- 1 part Cointreau
- twist of orange rind for garnish
Combine gin, vermouth and Cointreau in a glass/shaker. Add ice and stir thoroughly. Strain into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with the twist of orange and serve.
But the fun doesn’t stop there. You can infuse lavender into almost everything to get a bit of fragrant fanciness into your cooking.
- Try making lavender extract for sweeties like lavender cupcakes. (lots of info and recipes here)
- Lavender sugar is a handy little something special to have about. (Put 2-4 tablespoons of dried lavender buds into each cup of sugar, allow the plant oils to meld for 2 weeks before you use it sprinkled on toast or pancakes.)
- Lavender infused honey just means a few springs in a generic honey to add a purple pizzazz to the taste.
Recipes that love to lap up lavender:
- Panna cotta, crème brulee and ice cream. Milkiness and laverderiness go together like a varicose vein running up a lily white thigh. Shocking, but inevitable. Do it, it’s good.
- Lavender chocolates
- As a herb it can be a substituted for rosemary and goes nicely with mustard (try it with au gratin potatoes)
- It is a major ingredient in Herbes de Provence my flirty Francophiles. Make like a slutty provincial milkmaid and rub that lavender on a breast today!
And, oh baby, this is a mighty effort from Our Lady Martha Stewart (Thanksgiving Living magazine for 2007)
- 3 cups of granulated sugar
- 3 cups of water
- 1/4 cup of dried lavender
- 4 cups of fresh lemon juice (16-20 lemons)
- Ice for serving
- Lemon slice for garnish
Bring sugar and water to a boil in a saucepan stirring until sugar has dissolved. Stir in Lavender. Remove from heat, and let stand for 10 minutes. Strain, discarding Lavender. Let cool. Stir in lemon juice. (Lemonade can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 1 week.) Serve over ice, and garnish with lemon slices and fresh lavender sprigs.