Fact: food tastes better when you pick it yourself.
Sure, a hand-picked ingredient usually just tastes objectively better because it’s so fresh. But it’s more than that: it also tastes better because it tastes like the work you put in and the experience you had while picking it. It tastes like something you earned.
That’s why on my recent trip to Oregon I couldn’t resist visiting two local farms to gather some fresh cocktail ingredients. First stop: Lavender.
Mountainside Lavender Farm
A short drive outside Portland, Mountainside Lavender Farm has fields of stunning French and English lavender ready to be cut. The owner of the farm told me that Royal Velvet is especially great for cooking, so I braved the bees and filled my basket.
Next up, blueberries.
Rowell Brothers Berry Farm
I’ve been visiting the Rowell Brothers Berry Farm every summer for years, and their fresh Oregonian blueberries have ruined me for all other blueberries. Plump, flavorful, and rich, I love adding them to all kinds of cocktails and baked goods. This time, I decided to combine them with the newly-cut lavender for a seasonal cocktail syrup.
Summer Blueberry Lavender Punch
- 18 oz of Gin
- 10-12 oz Blueberry Lavender Syrup (to taste)
- 8 oz Elderflower Liqueur
- 6 oz Lemon Juice
- One Bottle of Sparkling Wine
To make the syrup, boil 1.5 cups of water and gradually stir in 1.5 cups of sugar. Next, add 1.5 cups of blueberries and simmer for 15 minutes. Next, add 2 tablespoons of lavender buds and allow to simmer for an additional 5-7 minutes (to taste). Allow to cool, then strain out solids.
Once the syrup is fully cool, add it to the gin, the elderflower, and the strained lemon juice. Stir well (or shake) until well mixed. Add ice, then pour in the bottle of champagne. Stir again, then serve.