To New Beginnings

About a month ago, it seemed as if spring was never going to beat out winter here in Boston. It was raw, damp and gray. As Marathon Monday quickly arrived, I thought about how last year, it was 90 degrees that day, and this year, we had barely reached 60 degrees on more than a handful of days. But spring finally arrived just a week or so ago, and boy has it been a good one!

Magnolia Trees, Beacon Street, Boston

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This past weekend, I went for a jog along the Esplanade. As I ran past the magnolia trees, the cherry trees, and the ornamental pear trees, I thought to myself, ‘This experience right now is 100 percent pure spring!’ And again last night, as I finished my run and sat stretching on the benches near the footbridge back to Beacon Hill, I thought the same thing.

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Sunset on the Esplanade, May 1, 2013

It’s been much needed here in Boston. After the chaos of the last few weeks following Marathon Monday, I feel like this city of mine needed a fresh start; to turn a corner into a new season. Mother Nature sure has responded. 100%.

Last weekend, I visited one of my favorite bookstores, The Brookline Booksmith, and picked out a book I’ve had my eye on for a while now, The Drunken Botanist by Amy Stewart. A book combining gardening and drinking? SCORE! Amy got me thinking about tons of different types of cocktails to try, and when I got home from my meander around the city, I found myself staring at a jar of dried lavender I’d purchased while in Seattle last year. Lavender … I’d had a gin based cocktail out in Seattle that had lavender bitters, but what about just infusing the lavender into the gin? I was onto something!

IMG_4730A simple Google search resulted in a few different recipes for lavender-infused cocktails, and on Sunday afternoon, I tried one of them out. The process was relatively simple, toss one and a half teaspoons of lavender into a saucepan and allow to warm for a few minutes over low. Add a cup and a half of gin and bring to a boil, immediately removing after reaching a boil and allowing to cool. That gin is then strained (with cheesecloth) back into your 750 ml bottle where it came from.

But I wasn’t done there! I then mixed up some lavender simple syrup, which was equally easy!

Lavender Simple Syrup

1/2 tablespoon lavender

1/2 c. water

1/2 c. sugar

Bring water to a boil, then steep lavender in the water for 10-15 minutes. Strain water, add back to the pot, and mix in sugar. Bring mixture to a simmer. Once sugar is completely dissolved, stir for another 2-3 minutes, then remove from heat and allow to cool. Store in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

Both the gin and the simple have this wonderful aroma and taste of lavender, which is just so refreshing and springy – the perfect ingredient for a spring cocktail! I recommend mixing one up, and then heading out to enjoy it on a patio or deck. If you’re a city dweller like me with no private outdoor space, then open up a window, pull up a comfy chair, and enjoy the breeze and this drink with a good book!

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Lavender Gin Fizz

2.5 oz. lavender-infused gin

1 oz. freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 oz. lavender simple syrup

2-3 dashes orange bitters

club soda

Fill a collins glass with ice. Add gin, lemon juice, simple syrup, and bitters.

Stir ingredients until well blended. Top with club soda. Garnish with a lemon wheel.

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