“In a few days, the Ojai Valley Lavender Festival kicks off, which gave us here at Drink of the Week an excuse to go on a little trip to Shangri-La over the hill and see what lavender cocktails could be found. After all, the town is so well-known for lavender (and lemons, and oranges, and …) that we expected a sort of purple haze to envelop us. We stopped — where else? — at the Lavender Inn on Matilija Street, where owner Kathy Hartley was waiting for us with a few refreshing drinks.
Both use a lavender simple syrup that can be strong or weak depending on the flowers used. And not all varieties of lavender are good for cooking, so be sure. Mrs. Hartley made us a Lavender Watermelon Martini, which uses watermelon juice, lime, Skyy Vodka and the lavender syrup mixed into a refreshing concoction. As a follow-up, the Lavender Blood Orange Cocktail uses Malibu rum, blood orange juice and the syrup, rimmed with purple sugar. (No lavender flavor, that sugar, just color.) Both offer a respite from the summer heat, and both are available at the Lavender Inn. Yes, the inn is only open to guests, but if you’re in town for the fest, you know what to do …”