Faced with the sheer abundance of fresh produce grown year-round in Southern California, Los Angeles bartender Matt Biancaniello threw his cocktail menu out the window and decided to let the local farmers’ markets guide his offerings.
Visiting the markets up to five times a week, Biancaniello stocks his bar with a veritable produce aisle, from arugula to green zebra tomatoes, then he gets to work muddling, infusing and garnishing with his garden-fresh ingredients. He created this fragrant and refreshing drink—which is featured in Imbibe‘s book The American Cocktail—as an homage to Los Angeles’s Mediterranean climate, where citrus, lavender, and artichokes grow with abandon.
2 oz. bourbon
3/4 oz. lavender syrup
3/4 oz. fresh lemon juice
1/2 oz. Cynar
Tools: shaker, strainer, barspoon
Garnish: small sprig of lavender
Combine the bourbon, lavender syrup, and lemon juice in an ice-filled cocktail shaker and shake well. Strain into an ice-filled Collins glass. Float with Cynar and garnish with the lavender sprig. Tip: To float the Cynar on top of the drink, hold a barspoon upside down close to the surface of the drink. Carefully pour the liqueur over the back of a bar spoon so it gently flows on top of the drink and doesn’t penetrate the surface and fall to the bottom.
3/4 cups water
2 Tbsp. dried French lavender buds
3/4 cups granulated sugar
In a small saucepan, bring the water to a boil. Add the lavender buds, remove from the heat, and let steep for 15 minutes. Strain out the lavender and stir the sugar into the lavender water until dissolved, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a clean glass container, cover, and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks. Makes about 1 cup.
Matt Biancaniello, Los Angeles, California