May 25, 2009

In which I enjoy being contrary...

I figured that, since today people are grilling out and mowing lawns and most likely drinking beer and wine, I'd go outside of the booze bubble entirely and make a non-alcoholic drink. That doesn't mean that it's gonna be boring, though.

I was at the store the other day, and I found a variety of four-packs of "Dry Soda", a company that makes not-too-sweet soft drinks in unusual flavors. I saw lemongrass, rhubarb, juniper berry, vanilla bean and lavender, and I picked up those last two. So I'll use them periodically either in cocktails or with non-boozy ingredients.

Today, I'm using the lavender soda and making an unusual lemon-based drink. I started by looking around the web at what ingredients people usually pair with lavender, and got some I came up with this:
Lavender-Herb Raspberry Lemonade

3/4 oz lemon juice
3-4 raspberries
3/4 good sized leaves fresh rosemary, bruised
pinch dried thyme
4 oz Lavender DRY Soda

Bruise rosemary with the bowl of a spoon against a hard surface, add to lemon juice. Add thyme and raspberries and muddle briefly. Let stand for several minutes. Strain through a fine-mesh strainer, gently pressing with a spoon to get all the juice out, and add 4 oz chilled Lavender Dry Soda.
I gotta admit, for wing-and-a-prayer-ing this drink, it turned out pretty well. If I could do it over with some extended prep time, I would have put the thyme and bruised rosemary in some boiling water, then strained and frozen it until it was time to use. The herbal flavor is a little weak. But given enough lead time, you could make a rosemary extract, let it steep and use that for a concentrated rosemary flavor. Or, if you like the idea, but want booze, you could use a good, herbaceous gin, or a tiny bit of Yellow Chartreuse. But even as a liquor-free drink, it's still something unusual and tasty.
Lavender-Herb Raspberry Lemonade

EDITED TO ADD: Yep, I tried it with steeping the herbs in boiling water, and it gets a LOT more flavor out of them. So take your bruised rosemary and your pinch of thyme, stick them in a tea ball or self-fill tea bag, and steep in about 1/2 ounce of boiling water, scaling up the water and herb quantities for multiple drinks. Let it sit for about 10 minutes, pull it out, and chill the herb tisane until well cooled. Then add it to the lemon/raspberry mixture, muddle, strain and mix with the Lavender DRY as before. Since every dried and fresh herb is different, though, I'd try the tisane before you plan to serve it out...that way you can test and adjust the strength of the herbal flavors.

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