by Joy Flanagan

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.  Honeysuckle and lilac are a couple of favorites that are usually found in ample amounts. Both make beautiful syrups that work well in place of regular simple syrup in classic cocktails or can even sweeten fresh squeezed lemonade!

The stargazer cocktail - and how to infuse flowers into cocktails www.pithandvigor.com

How To Infuse Flowers:

Early in the morning is the best time to pick and the flowers should be dry.  The pollen is what flavors the syrup so you want the blossoms to have plenty.  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!  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!
At Armsby Abbey we featured honeysuckle syrup in a spritely brunch cocktail called –

The Stargazer:

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!
Editor Note:  This was written earlier this spring and obviously mentions spring blooming flowers but rather than waiting until next spring to post it, I thought it would be a great share as there are many other flowers – even in the autumn – that can be infused.
Our image above, features Russian Olive branches and Honeysuckle flowers whose spring and summer blooms are particularly good in a syrup.  This time of year, I have my eye on the sweet jasmine-like scented flowers of my Seven Sons Tree (Heptacodium miconioides) as well as Clethra alnifolia  both of which I am researching to make sure they are edible (do you know?).  
image: rochelle greayer

 

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