I was so excited a few months ago when the Lilacs in our neighborhood burst forth in an explosion of fragrance and purple beauty, albeit a month or so early. Everything this spring seems to have come super early. Honestly though, after the rainy winter we had here in the Northwest, I'm not complaining.
That said, I was a little unprepared for the spring bounty. Luckily, I managed to pick a crap ton of Lilacs while they were still blooming, and for several weeks they filled the house with their sweet fragrance and petite purple petals.
With so many Lilacs around, I needed to find a way to capture their beautiful fragrance and preserve it for a while. I made some Lilac Syrup for cocktails, which was delicious, but I decided I'd also make a liqueur with them as well. I figured it would last longer than syrup and likely the flavors would be more intense as well. I've made liqueurs before, but never with flowers, so this was a new challenge for me.
Normally when making a liqueur with fruit, you don't need to worry so much about how intense the flavor gets, but with flowers, they can turn bitter very quickly, so timing is everything.
I stumbled upon a recipe online for Lilac Liqueur which I modified to suit my own needs. You can find my recipe here, which I used to make a Lilac Ramos Gin Fizz. Having made liqueur before with fruits, I enjoy using some brandy in mine, not just vodka. It preserves the fruit flavor while, unlike vodka, adds a bit of its own complexity to the mix. As I couldn't find the Spanish Brandy I like to use when making my liqueurs, I ended up using Pisco Capurro instead, which added some other lovely floral notes and complexity to the liqueur which I was really pleased with.
The standard Sidecar recipe calls for Cognac, Lemon Juice, and Orange Liqueur (usually Cointreau) and a sugared rim. So in this drink I decided to sub in the Lilac Liqueur instead of the Orange and see what happened. What I got was a very floral drink with both the Lilac notes and those from the Pisco I used for the Liqueur. This cocktail is not subtle, but I kind of like that. I makes you stand up and take notice of all those pretty Lilac aromas and flavors, and that's exactly what I was hoping for. I hope you'll give it a try at home if you are lucky enough to still have some Lilacs blossoming in your yard, or your neighbors. Don't worry, I won't tell if you "borrow" some of theirs.
- 1 1/2 oz Cognac
- 3/4 oz Meyer Lemon Juice (Regular lemon juice is fine if you can't find any Meyers)
- 3/4 oz Lilac Liqueur
Add ingredients to a cocktail shaker and shake with cracked ice. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass which has been rimmed with a lemon wedge and then dipped in fine sugar. Pro Tip: Get extra fancy and throw some Lilac petals in your sugar for your glass rim.