Making holiday cheer in the form of home-infused liqueurs with the help of America’s Test Kitchen’s lavender liqueur.

(Note: America’s Test kitchen sent me their The Complete Autumn & Winter Cookbook for review purposes, though all opinions are my own.)

Lavender liqueur from America’s Test Kitchen’s The Complete Autumn & Winter Cookbook

As I write this, we’re less than two weeks from Christmas and less than three from the New Year, and thanks to our vaccines and boosters, gathering for the holidays is once again possible this year. We managed to order the majority of our presents ahead of time, so while we’re waiting for a few more to come but for the most part, we’re in good shape. 

That said, I’m also making some things this year, including some things for Christmas Eve because we’re going to be making dinner at my in-laws’ home and so that should likely be a full-day affair. I wanted to do a fun cocktail, but given that we will probably be sipping things as soon as we start cooking, Michael wisely noted that we should have something slightly lower-octane than, say, a pepperoncini martini on the menu. I noted the soundness of his logic, so when he suggested a sparkling wine bar, I was all over it. We told his parents to start buying prosecco early, and we would bring the mix-ins like this lavender liqueur from America’s Test Kitchen’s The Complete Autumn and Winter Cookbook.

I’ll be writing more about this book in the future, because there’s a lot to be said about it, but one of my absolute favorite aspects is that they dedicate a chapter to all kinds of food gifts, from candy to mixes to syrups and even liqueurs. It’s a fun way to make something personal that largely defies the whole supply chain crisis, and as long as you give yourself some time as needed, they are actually pretty easy to make. 

I have one liqueur going that I don’t want to write about in the off chance that the recipient will read about it here, so let’s talk about this lavender liqueur instead. ATK notes that this is kind of spirit is similar to elderflower liqueur, but easier to make because dried lavender is far more accessible than dried elderflower.

What’s also nice about this recipe is that unlike others in the the book, it doesn’t require days and days of steeping so if you find yourself on the week of Christmas or New Year’s needing something, you could start this that Monday and have it ready in plenty of time for either Christmas Eve or New Year’s Eve, as you only steep the lavender and lemon peel for two days before adding simple syrup. 

This liqueur can be used for more than just sparkling wine cocktails, as ATK also notes that you can use this in place of creme de violette, which is a liqueur that is often used in classic drinks like the Aviation, and that can sometimes be hard to find, or at least on the pricey side if you do. 

So what you’re going to need to make this is some vodka, lavender flowers, a strip or two of lemon peel, and a container in which to steep all of them for two days in a dark cool place. You’ll also want a bottle for storing it in, and I love this reasonably-priced option from IKEA because it looks great and is the ideal size because you will need to add simple syrup to finish it off. 

In the midst of the hustle and bustle of this holiday season, why not make something that is largely hands-off and can be made in a matter of days while delivering maximum impact?

Stay tuned for more on this cookbook, especially when I hit the winter doldrums and I need comfort food to cheer me up on grey days and early sunsets.

Lavender Liqueur

From America’s Test Kitchen’s The Complete Autumn & Winter Cookbook

Makes about 16 ounces

  • 1 TB dried lavender flowers
  • 2 3-inch strips of lemon zest, white pith removed
  • 14 ounces vodka
  • 2 ounces simple syrup 

In a pint or quart-size jar, combine the lavender, lemon, and vodka, close tightly, and shake well to combine. Store the jar in a cool and dark place for two days,  shaking the mixture at least once per day.

Line a fine mesh strainer on a bowl, preferably with a pour spout, with three layers of cheesecloth and strain the vodka into the bowl, and press on the solids to extract as much liquid as possible. Wrap up the cheesecloth and squeeze the res

To make the simple syrup, combine ¾ cup of sugar with five ounces of warm tap water, and whisk until the sugar has dissolved. Let the syrup cool completely, about 10 minutes, and place in a container and refrigerate to store. (This will give you about 8 ounces, and you will only need two for this liqueur.)

Once the vodka has strained, add it to a clean bottle and add the simple syrup, close the bottle, and shake well to combine. 

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