We think of old fashioneds as drinks for the fall and winter, but with this Lavender Lemon Old Fashioned, you’ll know it’s a drink meant just for summer. With the bright citrus of a lemon simple syrup and the addition of lavender bitters, it’s an easy 3 ingredient cocktail you can make quickly when you need your bourbon fix in the afternoon.
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Let’s talk about this lemon simple syrup. We’re used to the citrus being added to an old fashioned either through the muddling of an orange or the addition of orange bitters (or both). In this case, I was inspired by Gastronom Blog to look into making a lemon simple syrup.
Like many other fruit-based simples, you can use either the fruit itself or the fruit juice. In this case, I used fresh lemon juice and the peels of the lemons to impart a strong lemony taste to the simple syrup. In Gastronom’s original recipe, they just called for water and lemon, but I used lemon juice, sugar and lemon peels, with no additional water.
As a result the simple syrup is very lemony, with lots of the citrus oils from the peels from steeping the peels in the warm syrup just after it finishes cooking. It was a lovely way to make the syrup more intense and cut down on the sweetness just a tad. The bitterness of citrus oils can do that to balance a cocktail or dish.
The intensity of the lemon flavor in the cocktail can be dialed up or down by using more or less simple syrup, OR by letting the lemon peels steep in the warm lemon simple syrup for longer.
As an experiment, I layered sugar, spent lemon peels and dried lavender in a jar to see if I could infuse that taste into sugar to add to cocktails, tea, lemonade, etc. Keep your fingers crossed it turns out.
One of the things I really love about this cocktail is that when we think of summer bourbon or whiskey cocktails, we typically think of a sour. But in this case, while we do have the taste of lemon, the lemon is used as the sweetening agent, not the sour. I love the combination of flavors with the lavender bitters.
For this cocktail, I’m using Scrappy’s Lavender Bitters – part of a set of cocktail bitters I bought a year or two ago and these are very floral, very bright and you don’t need a lot of them. Just the equivalent of a dash is enough to enhance the lemon flavors but let that lavender shine through.
If you don’t have lavender bitters at hand, this also works with orange bitters, but not so well with cherry bitters. The next time I make it, I’ll try the earl grey bitters as that might be incredibly tasty and just as easy!
If you like lemon cocktails, take a peek at one of my favorites: Chocolate Lavender Sour or this Sazerac Slushie which is an adult icee – but one that makes you happy rather than turns your tongue blue!
Lavender Lemon Old Fashioned
- 2 oz bourbon I used Elijah Craig small batch
- ½ oz lemon simple syrup**
- 12 drops Scrappy’s lavender bitters
- Garnish: lemon peel and lavender sprig
- Combine bourbon, bitters and simple in a mixing glass and fill with ice. Stir until the outside of the mixing glass is very cold, about 30 seconds. Strain into a rocks glass filled with ice and garnish with a lemon peel and lavender sprig.
- 3/4 cup lemon juice
- 3/4 cup sugar
- Peels from the fresh lemons you just juiced – just the peel, no pith.