Floral Libations: Summer Cocktails with Cassie Wilson

How many gentle flowers grow in an English country garden? We’ll tell you know of some we know - and some which taste magical in cocktails. Perfumed lavender, rich rose, fragrant lilac; a blossoming garden is a fertile foraging ground for unconventional, summer-drenched flavours.

For those fresh to floral concoctions, Deco Tartelette founder Cassie Wilson is the ultimate guide. As the palette behind botanical cocktail bible Floral Libations, Cassie eats, sleeps, dreams and (yes) drinks flowers, creating exquisite recipes which taste every bit as beautiful as they look.

Among Floral Libations’ 41 fragrant drinks lie spectacular infusions and elixirs, including recipes for Rose Petal Almond Milk, Hibiscus Old Fashioneds, Iced Lavender Cafe au Lait and Rosewater Plum Gin & Tonic. The irresistible pages contain ingredients you can pick yourself, and items you can find in your local supermarket (if you don’t have an afternoon to spend searching for dandelions).

Once beloved by the Victorians, botanical notes are staging a comeback. These flavours have fallen in and out of fashion for centuries. Violet sugar was a favourite of 13th century King Edward I, while the Tudors steeped both savory and sweet dishes in rosewater. This summer, flower-infused recipes are popping up everywhere; bright edible petals now sprout from restaurant salads, while rosebuds bob prettily in Sunday brunch bellinis.

To initiate you into a full-blown floral obsession, Cassie Wilson has shared four glorious recipes for flower-infused tipples. Stir up a batch of non-alcoholic lavender lemonade for the long, hot summer afternoons, then add a measure of lavender gin to concoct a scrumptious sundowner. Transform your everyday G&T with a splash of plum and rosewater, or reduce tangy orange zest and fresh chamomile in a simple syrup to make perfect, tart Palomas. Best served on ice, in delicate glassware, with a sugared rim.

Lavender Gin
Makes approximately 480ml

“Oh, lavender gin…  it woos me with its delicate hints of perfumy goodness. Every time I take a sip of this earthy infusion, I feel like I’m running through the lavender fields in the south of France. Be sure to prepare this beautiful infusion five days prior to use so it has time to develop its wonderful flavour.”

What you’ll need

  • 3 tablespoons dried lavender
  • 480ml gin

How it’s done

  1. In a large airtight container, combine the lavender and gin. Cover tightly and allow to sit at room temperature in a dark place for 5 days.
  2. Strain the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve set over a large bowl. This is an important step because if you leave the lavender in the gin for too long, it will become quite bitter. Transfer to an airtight container and store at room temperature. Use within 4 months for optimal flavour.

Lavender Lemonade with Lavender Gin
Makes 2 cocktails

What you’ll need

  • 50g Lavender sugar (recipe in Floral Libations)
  • 150ml Filtered water
  • 240ml Fresh lemon juice
  • 120ml Lavender gin (recipe above)
  • Ice cubes

How it’s done

  1. In a small saucepan, combine the Lavender sugar and 2 tablespoons of water and cook over medium heat. Simmer until the sugar has completely dissolved and the mixture has thickened into a syrup, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.
  2. In a large pitcher, stir together the Lavender sugar syrup, lemon juice, and the remaining 120 ml water. Stir in the Lavender gin.
  3. Pour the mixture into 2 tall glasses and top each glass with ice.

To make Cassie’s deliciously tart and tangy grapefruit & chamomile palomas, you’ll need to whip up a batch of this fresh floral simple syrup…

Cara Cara Orange and Chamomile Simple Syrup

Makes approximately 240ml

What you’ll need

  • 120ml Fresh Cara Cara orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon Finely grated Cara Cara orange zest
  • 1 tablespoon dried chamomile flowers
  • 200g cane sugar
  • 120ml filtered water

How it’s done

  1. In a saucepan, stir together the juice, zest, chamomile flowers, sugar, and water and cook over medium heat. Simmer until the sugar has completely dissolved and the mixture has thickened into a syrup, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.
  2. Strain the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve set over a bowl, then transfer to an airtight container. Store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Pink Grapefruit & Chamomile Palomas
Makes 1 glass

What you’ll need

  • 1/2 teaspoon rose salt (recipe in Floral Libations) or coarse salt
  • 1 Lime or grapefruit wedge
  • Ice cubes
  • 60ml Grapefruit juice
  • 2 tablespoons orange & chamomile simple syrup (recipe above)
  • 60ml Tequila 
  • Splash of soda water
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated orange zest
  • Fresh organic chamomile flowers for garnish (optional)
  • 1 Grapefruit slice for garnish (optional)

How it’s done

  1. Pour the rose salt into a shallow plate or bowl. Wet the rim of a tumbler with a lime wedge and dip the rim in the salt, gently rolling to coat it evenly.
  2. Place the ice in the tumbler and carefully pour in the grapefruit juice, simple syrup, tequila, seltzer water, and orange zest. Stir. Garnish with a chamomile flower or a slice of grapefruit.

Plum Rosewater Gin & Tonic
Makes 2 cocktails

What you’ll need

  • 140g Chopped plum or pluot
  • 120ml Gin
  • 60ml High-quality tonic water
  • 1/8 teaspoon rosewater
  • Ice cubes
  • 2 Slices of plum for garnish

How it’s done

  1. Place the plum in a blender and blend until liquefied. Strain the plum through a fine-mesh sieve set over a large bowl. Stir in the gin, tonic, and rosewater.
  2. Fill 2 glasses with ice and pour in the gin and tonic mixture. Garnish each glass with a plum slice.

Infuse your cocktail hour with flower power. Discover more gorgeous recipes in Cassie’s book, Floral Libations.