Lilac Liqueur

Once I discovered that lilacs were edible, I started dreaming up new ways I could use them. I infused them in honey and made tons of lilac simple syrup, but still wanted to somehow preserve their lovely floral aroma and delicate flavor another way. Enter limoncello. I had recently made a batch of this flavorful liqueur and thought maybe I could make, in essence, “lilaccello,” using the same method but with lilacs instead of lemons. It worked! I’ve refined my recipe to maximize the lilac flavor in a liqueur that is enjoyable on its own or in mixed drinks.

Lilac Liqueur (5 day recipe)
Note: this recipe works for any quantity, in any size of jar: just use equal amounts of each ingredient. I use 2 cup amounts in this recipe because it makes a decent amount of the liqueur and it’s easy to find 16 ounce jars.

Day 1
2 cups densely packed lilac blossoms
2 cups vodka

Tightly pack cleaned lilac blossoms (remove all green parts, stems and leaves) into a large jar and pour in the vodka until full. Put the lid on tightly, shake a few times, and let it sit in a cool place overnight.*

Days 2-3
2 cups densely packed lilac blossoms on each day

Pour the lilac-vodka mixture through a sieve/strainer into a bowl. Press down on the lilacs or squeeze with your hands to extract as much liquid as possible. Discard the squeezed, wet lilacs.

Tightly pack 2 cups of the fresh lilac blossoms back into the original jar and pour the strained vodka back in. Cover, shake, and let sit overnight. Repeat this process on Day 3 (or even for a few more days, depending on your lilac supply).

Day 4
2 cups sugar
2 cups water
1 cup densely packed lilac blossoms (optional)
1 Tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice (optional)

Prepare a simple syrup by heating the sugar and water in a saucepan, stirring occasionally, just until the sugar has completely dissolved and the syrup is clear.

For an extra boost of lilac flavor, add lilac blossoms to the hot syrup. Once the syrup is cooled, pour it through a sieve/strainer into a bowl. Press down on the lilacs or squeeze with your hands to extract as much syrup as possible. Discard the squeezed, wet lilacs.

Pour the lilac-vodka mixture through a sieve/strainer into a bowl large enough for the lilac-vodka mixture and up to 2 cups of simple syrup. Press down on the lilacs or squeeze with your hands to extract as much liquid as possible. Discard the squeezed, wet lilacs.

Add about half of the syrup to the bowl of lilac vodka, stir well and taste. Add more syrup (and the optional lemon juice) as needed to reach the flavor you like.

Let this mixture sit in a cool place overnight and taste it the next day. Keep any extra syrup either for Day 5 or for future use.

Day 5
Taste the liqueur and add more syrup if needed. Pour liqueur into bottles or jars and store in the refrigerator. (Note: this liqueur also freezes very well: just leave an inch or so of head space at the top of the bottle or jar to allow for expansion.)

Serve well chilled in a small cordial glass, or add a little to sparkling wine or mixed drinks.

*If you don’t have access to fresh lilacs over several days, either refrigerate as many as you can from Day 1 or let the Day 1 mixture steep for 4-5 days before adding the Day 4 syrup.

Step by Step Details
Basically, the method is to pack a jar with lilacs, fill it with vodka and let it sit overnight. Strain it the next day, pack the jar with fresh lilacs, and pour the strained vodka back over them. Repeat this for a few days and then add simple syrup to the strained mixture on the last day. Et voilà…lilac liqueur!

Day 1
Tightly pack the lilacs into a large jar.

Fill the jar with vodka and let it sit in a cool place overnight.

Days 2-3
You’ll notice the mixture is now light brown, like tea, and the color has leached out of the petals.

Pour the lilac-vodka mixture through a sieve/strainer into a bowl.

Press down on the lilacs or squeeze with your hands to extract as much liquid as possible. Discard the squeezed, wet lilacs.

Pack fresh lilac blossoms back into the original jar and pour the strained vodka back in.

Cover, shake, and let sit overnight. Repeat this process on Day 3 (or even for a few more days, depending on your lilac supply). You’ll notice the mixture getting darker and more fragrant each day.

Day 4
Prepare a simple syrup by heating the sugar and water in a saucepan, stirring occasionally, just until the sugar has completely dissolved and the syrup is clear.

For an extra boost of lilac flavor, add lilac blossoms to the hot syrup.

And for an even bigger boost, see my Robust Lilac Syrup tip here.

Once the syrup is cooled, pour it through a sieve/strainer into a bowl. Press down on the lilacs or squeeze with your hands to extract as much syrup as possible. Discard the squeezed, wet lilacs.

Pour the lilac-vodka mixture through a sieve/strainer into a bowl large enough for the lilac-vodka mixture and up to 2 cups of simple syrup. You may not need it all, but you’ll still want room to stir it around.

Add about half of the syrup to the bowl of lilac vodka, stir well and taste. Add more syrup (and the optional lemon juice) as needed to reach the flavor you like. Let this mixture sit in a cool place overnight and taste it the next day.

Day 5
Today is the final taste test. Add more syrup as needed. Pour liqueur into bottles or jars and store in the refrigerator. Cheers!


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