Growing up in Santa Monica, summer never really felt like summer until mid-August when the "June gloom" finally lifted. Most of our summertime family photos show us sitting at the beach, hazy skies behind, my siblings and I wearing sweatshirts over our swimsuits. Throughout high school I taught swimming lessons at the local pool to shivering toddlers who didn't want to get out of the water because it was 72 degrees, while the air temperature was 65. But summer in Southern California strikes just when you've given up on it. Now that Labor Day has come and gone and school is back in session, the heat has finally, truly hit. I love a cool glass of rosé when the heat is radiating off the sidewalk, and nothing hydrates better than water, but when I want a true cure, it has to be lemonade.
If you could cram everything about summer into a glass, it would be this blueberry lavender lemonade. It's sweet, floral, and refreshing. Doctor it up with vodka or tequila, or drink it straight and cold from the refrigerator, barely pausing to pour it from the pitcher. You could try raspberries or strawberries, but for the tastiest, prettiest punch, your best bet is a blueberry.
There are two ways to go about getting your blueberry fix. The first is the method I employed, which was to blend the berries together with a bit of lavender syrup before straining into the lemonade. If you don't want to clean a blender, and you don't mind the seeds, you could simply muddle the berries at the bottom of each serving glass with the handle of a wooden spoon. Either way is just as tasty, but straining the berries gives you a seed-free smile with which to enjoy the last days of summer.
- 1 cup sugar
- 4 1/2 cups water, divided
- 1/4 cup dried lavender
- 1 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
- 3/4 cup fresh or frozen blueberries, plus more for garnish
To make the lavender syrup, bring sugar and 1 cup water to a boil in a sauce pot. Reduce heat and let simmer until sugar is dissolved. Add lavender, cover and let steep for 8 to 10 minutes. Strain into a clean bowl and chill.
Strain lavender syrup into a blender, add blueberries. Puree until smooth. Pour blended blueberries into a pitcher, straining and pushing on the solids if desired. Add lemon juice and 3 1/2 cups chilled water to the pitcher. Stir and serve over ice. Garnish with additional blueberries if desired.