Monday, July 5, 2010


Wonderful in a wild flower bouquet, superb in an bath oil, sleep-lulling in a pouch under your pillow, and pretty good in a cream frosting. Lavender is one of Britain's all time favourite smells; instantly recognisable, a comfort, a breath of fresh air...

...but all this seems a little precious for such a versatile flower. A little 'Hyacinth Bucket' (booookaaaay) if you ask me. Which is why I wanted to find some way of giving it a new lease of life - a daring step out of the airing cupboard and into the drinks cabinet.

Mum was given a copy of Sharon Shipley's The Lavender Cookbook a few years ago. In it, 182 pages of lavender fueled feasts. It seems our purple headed friend can be a seasoning to almost anything we cook... So much so that the thought of working through it, recipe by recipe, leaves a undesirable soapy taste in the mouth.

So, to narrow it down, I went straight to the 'Beverages' section, for something to serve to friends on a midsummer eve.

And there, amongst Lavender Chicken Breasts and Lavender marinated Goats Cheese, was the jackpot. Lavender Margaritas. ARIBA!

(adaptation of Sharon Shipley's recipe, p. 74 The Lavender Cookbook)

Serves 10-12 generous helpings.

I made the sweet and sour mix and the salt rub the day before the drinks were to be served, so when it came to serving all you had to do was salt the glasses and pour in the tequila and cointreau! The sweet and sour mix needs to be a perfect mix of sticky syrup and sour citrus. I prefer a little more of the sour for an extra kick!

Lavender Sweet and Sour Mix
600g caster sugar
500ml water
1 tbsp dried culinary lavender buds
400g freshly squeezed lime and lemon juice

In a medium saucepan, mix the sugar, water and lavender. Bring to a boil over a high heat and stir to dissolve the sugar. Cover, remove from the heat, and let steep for 5 minutes. Strain into a pitcher or large jar. Add the lime juice and lemon juice. Cover and refrigerate until cold or until use the next day.

Lavender Salt Dry Rub
1 tbsp culinary lavender buds
100-150g (salty to extra salty) coarse sea salt.

For the glass rim - an essential ingredient for that oh-so-gorgeous face squirm as salt hits the tongue. It equalises the sweetness of the cocktail. And this is where the Lavender really makes its mark.In a pestle and mortar, pulse the lavender until finely ground. Transfer to a small bowl and toss with the salt.

The Final Touch
40cl Tequila (any type will do)
200ml Cointreau

Combine the sweet and sour mix with the tequila and cointreau. Add lots of ice.

Rim the glasses with lime - use wine glasses or tumblers if margarita glasses are out of reach. Place the salt rub onto a plate and gently turn the outside edge of the rim into the mix. Pour two centimeters from the top of the glass. Serve with a wedge of lime.

The ground lavender stands out against the salt; a dark and edgy contrast to the smooth lemon coloured cocktail.

The lavender taste saves itself to the end - a faint but unbeatable hint of good times in the bath!

They went down VERY well. A perfect compliment to my dinner party in the garden. And like the lavender, the guests were head to toe in fancy dress and barely recognisable...


  1. Oooh Rosie those sound blooming lovely! A very English summer tipple with a faint hint of Grandma's Yardley xxx

  2. They were fantastic! And lethal. But who's ever heard of a 'tame' margarita? Love that squirm as salt hits tongue and lime gets up nose.

    P.S Please drink responsibly.