Disclaimer: The Miscellany News does not endorse underage drinking. These drink recipes are intended for students 21 or older.
Turning 21 is a beautiful thing. It means that enjoying a glass of wine with dinner is basically compulsory, you can utter the phrase “Let’s go out for drinks” (which is very adult) and you have the capacity to expand your palate beyond Crystal Palace and the like. The odds are ever in your favor.
Luckily, I turned 21 mid-August—just in time to join my four housemates, already of-age, in our new Town House. Though we still have yet to settle on a house name, make a chore wheel or divvy up grocery bills, it’s become fairly clear what our house’s alcohol of choice is: gin.
While the perfect companion to gin will always be tonic—as jelly is to peanut butter and peanut butter is to chocolate, in my opinion—lately I’ve been exploring the possibilities for the juniper berry-based spirit.
Because gin is so aromatic, adding herbs like rosemary, thyme or basil really serves to elevate the flavors and bring out the best in it, unlike, you know, your ex-boyfriend. For our first stab at a fancy gin cocktail, my friends and I decided to tackle a recipe for lavender-thyme lemonade. The recipe, originally from HardlyHousewives.com I’m embarrassed to admit, is non-alcoholic, though the author chooses to add vodka to hers. In any case, this flowery lemonade is perfect by itself to cool off during these last few weeks of sticky weather if you want to skip the booze. However, if you’re going to imbibe, my recommendation is, of course, a few splashes of gin.
I will admit the idea of steeping lavender and zesting lemon is a little overwhelming to our college sensibilities. And yes, picking up a 30-rack of PBR is way more convenient. But all the culinary skills this drink recipe requires is knowing how to boil water. Even a first-semester senior can handle that.
You can buy fresh lavender at Adam’s Fairacre Farms in the flower section; the recipe calls for 1/4 cup of it, which is the equivalent of a small bundle. While you’re boiling water, remove the petals into a bowl along with the lemon zest. Once the water’s boiled, pour it into the bowl and let it steep for about 10 minutes. Then you’ll want to strain the lavender as best you can, pouring it into a pitcher with some ice. At this point, the magic happens: Squeeze about a cup of lemon juice (I recommend using lemon juice from a squeeze bottle, lest you waste time squeezing eight or so lemons) into your lavender-lemon zest mixture and the drink will instantly turn a beautiful, Instagram-worthy shade of pink. No filter necessary.
To complete your lemonade, you’ll need to add some cold water and sugar to taste. Pour into a glass, adding gin if you’d like, and a few sprigs of thyme and lavender.
For something fruitier with some carbonation, consider a blackberry gin fizz. You’ll need blackberries, club soda, limes, sugar, a blender, but most importantly, you’ll want fresh basil leaves. My housemate invested in a basil plant that inhabits the corner of our living room and I now consider it a culinary staple. Making pasta? Pesto? A delicious and refreshing cocktail? Just go pluck some leaves off.
But first, you’ll need to blend 1/4 cup of blackberries (for two drinks) and two tablespoons of sugar until it’s as liquefied as possible. If you’re not okay with some seeds, you’ll need to strain the puree through a sieve or tea strainer (but honestly, who has time for that?) before adding your desired amount of club soda, gin and ice.
For the grand finale, top off your purple libation with your freshly-picked basil and get ready for your taste buds to sing its praises.
As always, drinks are better enjoyed with friends—and also, drinking alone is called alcoholism. So try to find some friends who aren’t the American flag-wielding bros who live next door and say cheers!
1/4 cup dried lavender
2 cups boiling water
4-6 Tbs of Truvia (taste and modify for desired sweetness)
8 lemons, juiced
Lemon Zest 1 Lemon
4-5 cups cold water
Place the lavender and the lemon zest into a bowl, and pour boiling water over it. Allow to steep for about 10 minutes, then strain out the lavender. Mix sugar into the hot, strained lavender water, then pour into a pitcher with the ice. Squeeze the juice from the lemons into the pitcher, getting as much juice as you possibly can. Top off the pitcher with cold water, and stir. Taste, and adjust lemon juice or add more sugar if desired.
blackberry gin fizz
For two tall drinks
1/4 cup fresh blackberries
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup (4 liquid ounces or just shy of 3 shots) gin
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
2 sprigs sweet basil or 2 thin lime wedges (for garnish)
Purée blackberries and sugar in a blender until as liquefied as possible. Strain purée through a fine-mesh sieve or tea strainer into two tall or collins-style glasses; discard seeds in sieve. Divide gin and lime juice between glasses and stir to combine. Add ice to glasses then top each with soda and a sprig of basil or wedge of lime. (Might need another quick stir to combine.) Share with someone you like.