I’m no runner, but I can’t help but get outside for a jog when the weather starts to warm up in the spring. The vitamin D is a big draw but I tend to follow my nose when I’m on my running route as the spring blooms come out and the air is fragrant with their perfume. I love finding patches of flowers and picking the blossoms to make syrups for cocktails. Honeysuckle and lilac are a couple of favorites that are usually found in ample amounts. Both lilac and honeysuckle make beautiful simple syrups that work well in place of regular simple syrup in classic cocktails or can even sweeten fresh squeezed lemonade!
How To Infuse Lilac (and other) Flowers into simple syrup :
Early in the morning is the best time to pick and the lilac flowers to make simple syrup. The flowers should be dry so avoid times where there might be dew or condensation on the blooms.
The pollen is what flavors the syrup so you want the blossoms to have plenty. Lilac blooms produce a subtly sweet and floral syrup with a delightful purple color. (unless you are using white or pink lilacs)
I keep things simple and follow the equal parts formula so, depending on how much of the blossoms you pick, pack them in a measuring cup then measure out the same amount in sugar and the same amount in water.
Ideally you want just the flowers but sometimes other things make it into your picking bag so sort through to get rid of any branches, leaves, or bugs.
Set the sugar and water on a burner and bring to a boil so that the sugar is completely dissolved.
Remove from the heat and stir in the blossoms.
Let steep for an hour and strain through a fine mesh strainer.
You can also use a coffee filter or even a paper towel in the strainer to really clarify the syrup.
This syrup should keep in the refrigerator for a month but it will keep longer if you add a tablespoon of vodka!
How to make Lilac Lemonade
Try using 1 oz. of your syrup with 1.5 oz. fresh squeezed lemon juice and 6 to 8 oz. of water over ice for a refreshing lemonade! Maybe instead of water, top it with dry sparkling wine for a nice bubbly cocktail! It can take the place of regular simple syrup in classic cocktail recipes for a Daquiri or a French 75!
Using Honeysuckle Syrup in a Cocktail called the Stargazer
At Armsby Abbey (a fantastic restaurant in Worcester, MA) we often feature honeysuckle syrup in a spritely brunch cocktail called The Stargazer. Honey suckle syrup is made in the same way that lilac syrup is made and has a sweet, floral, and slightly honey-like flavor. (which is why it’s named after the sweet nectar found in honeysuckle blossoms). The taste is often described as delicate and fragrant, with subtle hints of floral notes.
The Stargazer Cocktail Recipe:
1.5 oz. Bluecoat Organic American Dry Gin
1 oz Pomegranate Juice
1 oz Grapefruit Juice
.25 oz Honeysuckle Syrup
Shake with ice and strain into a collins glass. Top up with soda water.
Garnish with a grapefruit peel, expressing the oils over the top of the drink.
This would work wonderfully as a pitcher drink if you’re having friends over for brunch or light afternoon cocktails! Just multiply the amounts by as many servings as you’d like!
Other Edible Flower Syrups to try in Cocktails
- Lavender: Lavender-infused syrup adds a soothing, aromatic flavor to cocktails and desserts.
- Rose: Rose petals create a romantic and fragrant syrup that’s perfect for cocktails and baking.
- Hibiscus: Hibiscus flowers produce a vibrant red syrup with a tart and fruity flavor, ideal for refreshing beverages.
- Chamomile: Chamomile-infused syrup has a calming, herbal taste, making it a great addition to tea-based cocktails.
- Elderflower: Elderflower blossoms yield a sweet and floral syrup that enhances the flavor of various drinks and desserts.
- Violet: Violet flowers give a subtle, slightly sweet syrup with a lovely purple hue, perfect for spring-inspired creations.
- Jasmine: Jasmine flowers create a delicate and aromatic syrup, lending an exotic touch to cocktails and sweets.
- Orange Blossom: Orange blossom flowers create a fragrant and citrusy syrup that’s excellent for adding a sunny twist to drinks and desserts.
- Peony: Peony petals infuse syrup with a mild, floral flavor and a hint of sweetness, making it a charming addition to cocktails and sweets.
- Dandelion: Dandelion flowers offer a slightly honey-like flavor when infused into syrup, adding a unique twist to beverages and desserts.
- Linden Blossom: Linden blossoms create a delicately sweet and aromatic syrup that pairs well with herbal and fruity cocktails.
- Marigold: Marigold petals produce a vibrant orange syrup with a slightly spicy and citrusy flavor, great for adding a pop of color and taste to recipes.
- Sunflower: Sunflower petals make a subtly nutty and earthy syrup that can be used to enhance both savory and sweet dishes.
Lesser know flowers to try for floral infusions
Floral-infused syrups can elevate your culinary creations and beverages, adding unique and fragrant flavors to your recipes. I enjoy taking inspiration from the garden and experimenting with these botanical delights!
My sense of smell always inspires me, and I have an interest in trying a few things that seem worth experimenting with. Currently, I’m eager to try the blooms of Russian Olive, and in the fall, I have my eye on the sweet, jasmine-like scented flowers of my Seven Sons Tree (Heptacodium miconioides) as well as Clethra alnifolia. If you have an interest in experimenting with new plants for infusions and floral syrups, always remember to check that the flowers are not toxic.
Other lilac, honeysuckle and flower cocktail posts you might be interested in:
image by rochelle greayer, written by Joy Flanagan