The Lion’s Share is one of the best cocktail bars here in sunny San Diego, and a place that I’ve been going regularly nearly since it opened about three and a half years ago. Ever since they opened, they have featured on their cocktail a monthly special called the “Homegrown Cocktail,” which is a recipe created by a local bartender from the San Diego area. A bunch of great cocktails have been featured as the homegrown over the years. Among my favorites is a recipe called the Great Scot, which is a great combination of Laphroaig, Campari, and (gasp) egg white. I still wish I had the exact version of that recipe, and not just the reverse engineered recipe that I linked to above.
With all the great history behind the Homegrown, I am super excited that this month the featured recipe was created by yours truly! We call it the Champs de Lavande.
Champs de Lavande
1 oz Old Forester Bourbon
1 oz Carpano Bianco Vermouth
0.75 oz Lemon Juice
0.5 oz Salers gentian liqueur
0.5 oz Honey syrup (1:1)
2 dashes Scrappy’s Lavender bitters
1 dash Regan’s Orange bitters
Shake and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a lemon peel.
Salers is not always available, but you can substitute Suze. Dolin Blanc is a reasonable substitute for the Carpano Bianco.
This drink is a variation on a recipe that I’ve been serving at home for more than a year to strong reviews, called the Lavender Mistake (so-called because my original recipe called for Mezcal, but one day I accidentally made it with Rye whiskey instead and the result was far superior).
The Lavender Mistake
1.5 oz Rye Whiskey (Sazerac 6 year)
0.5 oz Benedictine
0.5 oz Salers
0.25 oz Honey syrup (1:1)
1 dash Scrappy’s Lavender bitters
Stir and strain into a cocktail glass. No garnish.
The key to both this drink and the Champs de Lavande is the interplay between the Salers, honey, and lavender flavors, particularly the gentian liqueur and lavender. This latter combination was first introduced to me by a bartender at the Experimental Cocktail Club in Paris, who when asked to make a White Negroni with Suze produced a drink that also included lavender bitters to great effect.
Although the Lavender Mistake is a great drink, I decided to modify it for the Homegrown because the original is rather spirit forward and I wanted a recipe that was a little more refreshing and accessible. Adding a sour-style component, through the lemon juice, was a straight-forward way to accomplish this goal, but the result was that the citrus dominated the more subtle flavors of the Salers and lavender that I wanted to highlight. To fix this, I borrowed a concept from the classic Scofflaw cocktail, which uses an ounce of dry vermouth as a means to soften the combination of a sour-style mix of lemon juice and grenadine with rye whiskey. The result in the Champs de Lavande is a cocktail with a complex intermingling of flavors without any dominating the others.
If you’re in San Diego, please head down to The Lion’s Share to try it out! As an extra incentive, $1 from each Homegrown cocktail sold is donated to charity. This month, Naomi and I selected California Labs & More Dog Rescue as our charity of choice, from which we recently adopted our dog, Cookie Monster. So, when you order the drink, know that you’re also helping out a great cause!