Now is the time for bubble-topped cocktails. A bounty of citrus, ideally in season, will soon deluge markets to brighten winter months. This luminous sip is inspired by the La Fête du Citron—the 90-year-old lemon festival occurs each February in Menton, a coastal town in the heart of the Riveria.

The intensely yellow orbs are ripe for the picking (and cocktail ready), so invite friends over for a citrus toast. Look for fruit with smooth, even skin, ones that feel slightly heavy for their size. A thinner-skinned lemon will yield more juice.

Lemon Sparkler
Serves 4

1 c. lemon juice
Zest of 2 lemons
1 c. lavender simple syrup (see recipe below)
1 c. Absolute Vodka
Bel Star Prosecco, to taste
1 c. ice

To make simple syrup:
3 c. water
2 c. superfine sugar
1 ½ Tbs whole lavender flowers

Method:

Add superfine sugar to cold water.

Stir and place over a medium flame. Bring to a boil and cook for exactly 2 minutes. Turn flame off, and add 1 ½ tablespoons of loosely packed lavender flowers. Stir to soak all flowers. Cover and move pot to stand on a cold burner.

Allow the simple syrup to return to room temperature (this takes about an hour). Strain the syrup—removing the lavender flowers—into a glass jar or vessel. Place in the refrigerator and use within 10 days (this recipe makes approximately 3 cups of syrup). Note: If the lavender flowers are left in the solution it will turn bitter.

 

To fashion the cocktail:

Zest 2 lemons using a plane grater. Juice 1 pound of lemons (approximately 5 small lemons) by cutting each in half and employing an electric juice or hand reamer to extract juice, being mindful to avoid seeds.

In a glass pitcher loosely add 1 cup of ice along with 1 cup of lemon juice, the lemon zest, 1 cup of vodka (we used Absolute) and 1 cup of lavender simple syrup. Stir until most of the ice has melted chilling the contents. Remove any remaining ice cubes with a slotted spoon, if necessary.

Pour into 4 martini glasses and top with a heavy splash of Prosecco (we used Belstar).

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