Have You Been Drinking?

IMG_4537The answer is yes and the substance is one of the weirder beverages of the season: lavender soda.

Now maybe lavender soda is a staple in other parts of the US or Britain and I will get comments telling me that people there have been tossing back lavender soda for ages, but it was new to me.  A company called Dry Soda Co.  produces the stuff out of Seattle and they sell it at one of my local supermarkets.  Which, being three thousand miles away from Seattle, gives you an idea of how successful this home kitchen start-up has become.

Admittedly lavender isn’t an obvious first choice for soda, and if you live in my neck of the woods, you have to defend your soda selections carefully since New York Mayor Bloomberg has got a bunch of ads running on local television reminding people in a forceful fashion of the horrors of unrestrained sugar ingestion.  The campaign features citizens being doused with all the packets of sugar that their soda contains.  You’re supposed to recoil in horror and say, “Goodness! I hadn’t the foggiest notion that soda has that much sugar in it!”, and presumably go cold turkey or else turn to the methadone of stevia.

Someone is exhibiting a touching naivete, and it just might be the mayor. That is, if he thinks he can stand between New Yorkers and their sugar rushes.

But to return to the lavender version of this particular vice-  it has cane sugar rather than high fructose corn syrup, and is 70 calories a bottle. I can live with that, even if Mayor Bloomberg can’t since, unlike the Worshipful, I accept that all things must pass, including life spans.

The soda is quite dry as advertised, and has a decidedly delicate flavor.  It is somewhere in between ginger ale and lavender, with just enough lavender surfacing to give it a distinctly floral tone, but not enough to make you feel you are gargling with Pour un Homme.  There are hints that it might make a good mixer for those who like to concoct adventurous cocktails.  Lavender soda might make a good partner for gin, but my mind runs along lines of Lavender shortbread paired with it (more sugar) or possibly a scoop of lavender ice cream so as to make a lavender float (even more sugar and some saturated fat).

It would make a delicate alternative to iced tea in the South, and an excellent partner for lemon meringue pie (still more sugar, so much as to press the panic button in NYC).  I know that it goes well with Mexican food, because I’m in the habit of messing about with tamales and tacos, and my husband makes a very good Mole sauce and I’ve enjoyed the combination.  (I thought I was clever to think of food parings, but apparently that was the entire point of the enterprise.)

Altogether, it is a find, and although it may not be a favorite of lavender avoiders – and there seem to be many of you out there – you should still try lavender in food.  It does pick up certain things nicely, baked goods for instance, and might be good in ratatouille along with fennel seed and Sambuca (my personal additions). Perhaps if the mayor comes to call, I’ll offer him a nice glass?

(Full disclosure – I have no connection with the company or anyone in it, or frankly, with the city of Seattle.  I just like the product.)

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17 thoughts on “Have You Been Drinking?

  1. The lavender soda sounds intriguing, and the ratatouille sounds wonderful. My favorite “lavender food item” is an amazing goat cheese from California that is flavored with lavender and fennel pollen.

    • Ooh that sounds really lovely!
      The ratatouille benefits from 1tsp fennel seed and 1 tsp dried lavender and then a shot of sambuca before it is finally cooked down. Makes it very Provencale.

  2. I have never heard of lavender soda, so it’s a totally new idea to me too. I can’t say I am a massive fan of lavender in food, but a good friend of mine makes a very good lavender spread for toast. It is hard to describe, but the sugar and lavender are boiled down to a syrup, which becomes the consistency of a thick honey, which is spread on toast. It tastes very sweet, which balances the floral/resinous kick of lavender quite well.

    • Lavender spread is very new concept for me, so we’re even here!

      Can’t imagine how long it takes to boil down lavender in sugar to get the right consistency. I used to make jam and that took most of a day, but it was just fruit to sugar 1:1 and so pretty simple by comparison.

      • I’ve only seen the end product, so am not entirely sure, but I seem to remember that it took a long time, and careful watching too, in case it burnt or became toffee!

    • Isn’t it wonderful? I figure with your husband’s fondness for artisanal sodas, this should be a shoe in. Juniper is such a good idea, non-gin gin-if you know what I mean.

      • Oh, good– I wondered about that. I love the scent and taste of fresh juniper berries, and I’ll bet this would make a very natural companion to my daily draughts of ye old tonic water…. did you try the vanilla bean flavor? Scott is curious what you think…. I often use Goya or Reeds hot ginger ale as the basis for stir fry sauces; I wonder how the lavender soda would fare reduced in a sauce of some kind?

        • Oh yeah, I tried the vanilla, certain that it was going to be cream soda, actually it is a little bit wan by comparison, sorry to disappoint your other half here.The winner so far is the lavender.
          Not sure if the soda would reduce satisfactorily, think maybe not. I would go for a flower essence of food grade. But Love your use of Reeds hot gingerale. Still chop ginger root myself, time consuming. Next up, Fentiman’s Botanically Brewed Rose Lemonade! Should one of us try the Rhubarb soda?

          • I’d love to. I got Scott a root beer sampler for Christmas– 24 unique bottles from artisanal & small-batch regional breweries, almost all using real cane sugar, and all tasting surprisingly different just when you’d think all root beers taste the same. They’re all gone now, and we’d been eyeing similar samplers for birch beer and ginger beer…. but now we’re both intrigued by Dry and may have to go for it.

          • They don’t have the rhubarb at King’s which is where I found the Dry in the first place, so some time when things are less crazy for you, do let me know how it was.

  3. PS Shouldn’t Bloomberg’s ad feature buckets of corn syrup dumped on people instead? Ita use in food seems to be way more common than cane sugar nowadays….

  4. There is a regional ginger ale here called Blenheim’s — it’s made in South Carolina. It comes in two varieties: regular and hot. The hot is guaranteed to clear your sinuses — it’s like drinking wasabi!

    I grow lavender and like to make Earl Grey iced tea, which is laced with bergamot. I wonder how dried lavender spikes would taste infused together with the Earl Grey. Going to try that this summer.

    • Maybe the hot variation of Blenhem’s is a version of good old ginger beer? I used to drink that in England as a child and it was a wonder, hot enough to shrivel your tonsils. Love the idea of a local So Carolina brewed ginger ale.

      Never thought of the combination of Earl Grey and lavender-but why not? It sounds like a pretty good plan along about July. Maybe I’ll give it a go after making my obligatory lavender vinegar.

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