When I think about lavender, rarely does it come up as anything more than a simple, pretty flower with a relaxing scent and therapeutic qualities. It's perfect for a luxurious bubble bath, and a beautiful pop of purple color to any garden. But this shrub's tendency to be grouped together with the other soap scents does a disservice to its culinary strength: a relative of the mint family that's not uncommon in Provençal cookery, lavender deserves a permanent place in your pantry.
The flower's light, dusky flavor makes for a spectacular infusion in simple syrup, a mixture that's a cinch to put together and which has quickly turned into one of my kitchen staples. Two of my favorite recipes include a refreshing lavender honey sorbet and rich and creamy lavender fudge. It's also perfect in a drink, particularly paired with a nice dry gin. While gin can be hit or miss with certain mixers, its juniper-scented undertones play off nicely against the sweetness of the lavender syrup. Stirred with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and topped with club soda, it's a perfect springtime drink.