English lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) is the most fragrant and, therefore, the perfect type of lavender for this recipe. I particularly like the cultivar ‘Munstead’. If you can’t find that, L. x intermedia ‘Provence’ (French lavender) has a milder, sweeter flavor, which is also good. Lavender is particularly potent, so to stop the infusion smelling like an old underwear drawer, use it sparingly, and only infuse it for a very short time, otherwise a nasty bitterness will pervade. But, get the balance right and you’ll have floral notes singing beautifully in a wide variety of summer cocktails.
Makes approximately 1 quart (1 liter)
Place the fresh or dried lavender blossoms in the jar. Pour in the gin.
Seal the jar, upend it gently a couple of times, and place somewhere dark at room temperature. Leave for 5–8 hours, testing after 5 hours, then every hour to make sure there is no bitterness emerging. (To speed things up, heat the lavender gently in a pan with half the gin. As soon as it reaches boiling point, take off
the heat, let cool, and add the remaining gin.)
Strain the infusion into the sterilized presentation bottle(s), seal, and store in a cool, dark place. Both methods will result in a gin with a pinkish-purple hue.
Harvest fresh, unsprayed lavender when the flowers have been exposed to plenty of sun, so that as much essential oil is produced as possible. The flowers should be showing signs of purple but not be fully open.
Remember that the potency of herbs increases with drying, so use a third of the quantity of culinary-grade dried flowers to fresh.