This month, we offer our second installment on creative cocktails from Jesse Goldstein on the often overlooked of beauty lavender as a flavor. Hopefully you will be inspired to experiment with your own infusions to create spirits with complex, but delicious, flavors.

While the idea of infusing herbs and botanicals into spirits may seem to be more popular these days than taking a “selfie”, the practice is nothing new. Take Chartreuse for example: infused with more than 130 botanicals, Chartreuse has been made by the Carthusian Monks in the French Alps since 1737. But just because infusing is an old idea does not mean that we can’t continue to interpret (and reinterpret) the process to create flavors that are fresh, modern and, most importantly, breathtakingly delicious.

The flavor of lavender has never really caught on in this country, though for centuries it has been used around the world as an herb and condiment. (Please watch Juliette of the Herbs.) While it often finds its way into an abundance of scented candles, lotions, and soaps, all too rarely does it find a home in our food and drinks.

Recently, I’ve become partial to the flavor it imparts to cocktails. The same aromatic qualities that make lavender ideal for fragrances also make it a wonderful flavor. After experimenting extensively over the past few years, I’ve finally settled on the perfect proportions for making lavender vodka. My first couple of attempts had far too much lavender and tasted more like a lavender extract than a delicate spirit. Others batches had a good fragrance, but not that much flavor. The key, I discovered, is carefully measuring your lavender buds and letting it steep for several days.


Once made, lavender vodka can be used as substitute for plain vodka in most any cocktail and will most definitely inspire you to create your own unique libations. One of my personal favorites is a simple combination of lavender vodka and soda water. Garnish it with a slice of cucumber and it’s like sipping on a spa.

When sourcing your lavender, first make absolutely certain you are finding an organic source. The Frontier Co-op is my go-to source, but many health food stores now carry it as well. This recipe only calls for a single tablespoon, so you’ll undoubtedly have a surplus of dried lavender buds to use for future infusions—or an array of other purposes. (I’m very fond of mixing them in with my peppercorns and using that blend as an everyday seasoning in the kitchen.)


1 750ml bottle good quality vodka
1 tablespoon dried organic lavender buds

Using a funnel, add the lavender buds directly into the bottle of vodka. Recap the bottle and shake to distribute. Let the vodka steep for five days, shaking it daily to distribute the floating buds.

Once ready, strain the vodka into a clean container through a fine mesh strainer to remove the bulk of the lavender buds. Strain the vodka again through a coffee filter to remove the finer particles.



2 ounces lavender-infused vodka
.75 ounce Jack Rudy Tonic
4 ounces club soda or mineral water

Add vodka and tonic syrup to a tall glass. Fill with ice and top with club soda. Stir lightly to combine and garnish with a slice of lime.



2 ounces lavender-infused vodka
.5 ounce Creme de Violette Liqueur
.5 ounce freshly-squeezed lemon juice
.5 ounce Gomme Syrup (or simple syrup)

Combine ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake for 10-15 seconds to chill and strain into a cocktail glass. Add a strip of lemon zest and a few lavender buds to garnish.


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Click to read 9 comments
  1. marci

    It’s easy to over do it with lavender….I made some Lavander infused vodka one time and thought “I love the tase I should put in more lavander then the receipe calls for”…don’t do this…it was WAY too strong. I added about 1 table spoon of lavender to a large sugar jar. When I use the sugar I sift out the lavender. It’s great for cakes and whipping cream. I also was happy to realize that of the 3 types of lavender I have growing in my yard one of them, Hidcote, is a good one to use in cooking.

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  4. maria

    The most important is to make sure you are using the lavender that is for culinary use, (herb). The other variety’s
    will make it taste like perfume, or soap. Big difference!!

  5. dave

    In the future, it’s very helpful to list special ingredients, like lavender, by weight instead of volume. “One tablespoon” can have a very wide variance, but “20 grams” is specific and easy to replicate.

  6. Nancy Bergdoll

    I grew lavender and cut, dried and put some tblspns of it into three cups or so of Tito’s and let it sit for a week. I found a recipe wich involved lime juice and simple syrup.

    I think I might enjoy your recipes more. I love the lavender infusion, not so crazy about the lime juice. Maybe the lemon or cucumber will be nicer. Thank You

  7. Sharon

    After decades of experimenting, I discovered that single note extractions, i.e, one herb only, produces a medicinal, “mouthwash” tasting product. Very harsh and often gag-worthy. Lavender, in particular, needs to be tempered and supported by “sweeter” botanicals. Vanilla, whole bean or extract, along with whole coriander seeds is an excellent start. I’ve been making lavender syrup from my own shrubs for many years, and have found it to be a superior way of flavoring libations. Why not experiment, have fun and customize your own blend?

  8. Scott

    Thank you for such a delightful article.
    I’ve been making flavoured vodkas for some time and thought to try one with lavender which brought me to this page. Everything looked marvellous until, as Dave found, your recipe mixed measurements even after cautioning against using too much. I see you replied to him but like me, I’m sure he would have liked you to define your tablespoon of lavender in grammes.