One of the best things so far about Long Island living? Lavender by the Bay. Hands down. Picture yourself strolling through acres of blooming lavender and unwinding a bit more with every breeze. Add in the fact that there are literally hundreds of wineries and farm stands in the surrounding area, and you’re well on your way to the heaven that was my Saturday. The only thing that could make it better? My mom was able to visit this weekend! Needless to say, we had fun. And relaxed a lot.
Bonus? I made a delicious cocktail with our lavender pickings (okay we had to buy bundles of lavender…) and a fabulous bowl of popcorn for the perfect girls’ night in. Fluffy floor pillows and all. Cue the sappy movie!
My favorite thing to do with a fragrant ingredient like lavender in a drink is to pair it with a liquor that is already full of botanical notes. Are you thinking gin too? I guess great minds think alike!
One of the ultimate questions in cocktail preparation is: shaken or stirred? I always heard James Bond sidle up to the bar and exclaim “Shaken, not stirred” after asking for his martini. Does it even make a difference? I mean you are literally just cooling your drink down with ice.
Okay…but it’s a bit more complicated than that. Essentially when you are vigorously mixing the ice cubes with your cocktail ingredients, you are forcing everything to cool down very quickly. The friction and mechanical action of your cocktail shaker forces the ice cubes to break up and melt. And it’s that liquid that actually cools your drink in a split second while it dilutes your drink. I.e. the more friction, the more dilution and the lower the temperature.
Whenever you taste something that is particularly aromatic (aka something is very dependent on your sense of smell, rather than your basic tastes), the temperature is extremely important. Your sense of smell is dependent on volatility—little gas molecules of the food or drink move around in the air and up the nostrils. And you know what makes gas molecules crazy and fire on all cylinders? Heat! When a mixture is warm, the molecules move very quickly and hit your olfactory receptors more often striking a stronger scent. And vice versa for colder temperatures.
In other words, when you really want to taste the juniper and the lavender from your cocktail, your drink should be cold enough to enjoy, but warm enough to really taste. Or smell… Anyway, the stronger mechanical action of shaking a cocktail with ice actually melts more ice and cools the drink down more—by as much as ten degrees! Stirring the cocktail gets it deliciously cold, but just warm enough to really adore. Stir in this case!
One thing you’ll notice about lavender fields is that bees are abundant. So I thought that I’d play off of that and mix up a lavender-scented Bee’s Knees cocktail to enjoy. Also, sip on that while you snack on this browned butter lemon popcorn! And brush up on how popcorn pops—you’re really in for a treat.
Lavender Bee’s Knees Cocktail
Adapted from Epicurious
¼ cup water
1 ½ teaspoon lavender blossoms (I used fresh, but if you use dried, reduce to 1 teaspoon)
¼ cup honey
6 tablespoons gin (¼ cup + 2 tablespoons)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
- Heat the water and lavender together over medium-low heat swirling gently to disperse. Turn the heat off after the water simmers and let sit for 5-10 minutes, letting the lavender steep in the water.
- Add the honey to the water and whisk together.
- Strain the mixture into another container. Discard the lavender buds.
- Add 3 tablespoons of the honey syrup, gin, and lemon juice to a cocktail shaker. Fill with ice and stir vigorously.
- Strain and split the drink mixture into two chilled martini glasses.
- Store any remaining honey syrup for further delicious-ness!
Browned Butter and Lemon Popcorn
Makes enough for 1 regular-sized microwave popcorn bag (about 11 cups)
¼ cup butter (4 tablespoons)
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 bag microwave popcorn (about 100 grams)
- Brown the butter over medium-low heat. Remove from heat and let cool slightly.
- Zest the lemon and stir into the browned butter.
- In a large bowl, drizzle the butter mixture over the popcorn and toss to combine.
- Add the salt and toss to combine. If you want a sweeter popcorn, add the sugar and toss again.