Lilac syrup adds a beautiful floral flavor to lemonades, teas, cocktails, mocktails, and other recipes.
Although lilac season is incredibly short, you can keep the gorgeous scent of spring a little longer through this lilac simple syrup. And if you want it to last even longer, try making a lilac liqueur.
When are lilacs in season?
It depends on the variety, but generally speaking, lilac season is the month of May. In warmer areas, it might be earlier, and in cooler climates, a bit later.
Here in New Hampshire, lilacs typically begin to bloom in the first two weeks of May, although the last two years my lilacs haven’t fully opened until the second half of the month.
Once in bloom, lilac flowers are only around for about two weeks, so it’s best to plan ahead if you want to capture their beautiful fragrance in lilac syrup or lilac sugar.
Make sure that any flowers you harvest are free of pesticides or any other chemicals. And as always, be sure that you can identify the flowers you’re picking with 100% certainty.
What does lilac syrup taste like?
This easy lilac simple syrup tastes just like the blooms smell, but it’s mild enough to not overpower the recipes you use it in.
I’ve found with lilac experiments over the years that the oils in lilac flowers can take on a cloying, somewhat unpleasant taste if too concentrated.
The flavor also seems to change if the flowers are steeped for too long, so this is why I recommend a steep time of 4-5 hours.
Although lilac flowers are a lovely pale purple, they don’t impart their color to this syrup. Instead, you can add a handful of blueberries to the syrup while it’s hot to get a soft purple hue.
You can also use a couple of butterfly pea flowers for a blueish purple color.
What can I do with lilac syrup?
Use this syrup in place of regular simple syrup in all kinds of recipes.
You can make an easy lilac lemonade by combining equal parts freshly squeezed lemon juice and lilac syrup with 4-6 parts water or sparkling water.
Use lilac syrup to sweeten hot or iced teas, or whipped with coconut milk for a soothing lilac latte. You can also use it to add a floral flavor to dishes like my Strawberry Lilac Crostinis or make a seasonal fruit salad with late spring berries, peach slices, and a splash of lilac syrup.
Lilac syrup is also a great addition to cocktails and mocktails. Try a Lilac Gimlet with 1 ½ ounces gin or vodka, ¾ ounce freshly squeezed lime juice, and ¾ ounce lilac simple syrup. Shake all ingredients with plenty of ice and strain the drink into a cocktail glass.
This incredibly simple syrup is made with:
- 1 cup lilac blossoms
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup hot water
- Handful of blueberries, for color (optional)
How to make the syrup:
Begin by collecting your lilac blossoms. For 1 cup of flowers, you’ll want to gather at least 6-8 large clusters. Look for flower clusters that are fully in bloom.
Give the clusters a good shake to remove any bugs or debris, then carefully pull the purple petals from the stems.
If the blooms are at their peak, the flowers come off fairly easily, without any green parts. Make sure that you collect only the purple flowers, as those little green parts can lend an unpleasant flavor to the syrup.
Aim for 1 cup of tightly packed blossoms. You can also double this recipe to make the most of your lilacs, if you think you can use up the syrup before it begins to go bad.
Generally speaking, simple syrups will last about 2 weeks in a covered container in the refrigerator.
You can also lengthen their shelf life a bit by adding an ounce of vodka or grain alcohol to the syrup.
Once your lilac blossoms are prepared, heat 1 cup of water just until boiling. Combine 1 cup of white sugar with the hot water and stir to dissolve the sugar.
As soon as the sugar has dissolved, stir in the lilac blossoms and blueberries (if using them), and cover the mixture with a cloth.
Allow the syrup to steep covered for 4-5 hours, then strain out the flowers. Store the finished syrup in the refrigerator in a clean, covered container such as a mason jar.
If you want more lilac recipes, try making Lilac Sugar with my How to Make Floral-Infused Sugars recipe.