Happy Hour: In the Spirit of Spring

photo by: katewrightson Spring is finally making a bit of an appearance, and everywhere I go I see evidence of its much needed arrival. The groundhog's cruel joke this year has pushed New Yorkers to their limits, and the icy winds that still remain seem to be a direct correlation with the way people respond to one another.

That is precisely why its about time to pump up our spirits with a little homemade sunshine, and coax spring out of hiding. So take a deep breath, and take time to sip these flowery cocktails.

I start off with a pop of purple in the above cocktail better known as the Aviation. It consists of 1-1/2 oz of gin, 3/4 oz lemon juice, 2 dashes of maraschino liqueur, 2 dashes crème de violette, and garnished with either a maraschino cherry or lemon twist. It will have you saying, " Spring may refuse to arrive, but I don't mind, I've got a cup full of luscious violet blossoms to perk me up!"

photos by: KatySheCooks,  kelly bone

Another way to taste spring is by adding beautifully fragrant lavender into the mix. The best way to do so is by infusing dried flower buds into a simple syrup. I like to use honey or agave nectar instead of sugar, as it is not only a bit better for you, their flavors go great with the subtleness of the lavender.

For Lavender sweetener: Combine 1 cup hot water with ½ cup honey (or agave nectar) and ¼ cup lavender buds. Let mixture steep as it cools; strain before use. Keep remainder refrigerated.

Try 2 tsp. of the sweetener with 1-1/2 oz  gin, 4 cucumber slices and 3/4 oz fresh lemon juice, or your favorite refreshing citrus aquavit cocktail, or even put a splash of it in your bubbly to give it a sweet n' floral kick, and a lovely light purple color.

And lastly, the most popular flower in the bouquet, elderflower. Elderflower presse,  cordial or liqueur has a delicate flavor reminiscent of the physicality of the flower itself. It's sweet at first, like a light Muscato and honeysuckle, but then finishes with a tart grapefruit like taste, which is why it is a great spring compliment for a cucumber margarita or even the traditional side car. Check out these other great cocktails made with St. Germain, an elderflower liqueur.

With all of these lovely botanical flavors, Spring is only a a sip away!