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Lilac Gin Release: Perfect Floral Gin Cocktails


Lilac Gin Release: Perfect Floral Gin Cocktails


Written by Thomas Adams 
September 27, 2013

Spring has sprung, and it’s time to break out the floral gin cocktails to celebrate! The annual release of our Lilac Gin is here, just in time. We’re proud of our Lilac Gin for many reasons, and it’s the perfect base for some of our favorite floral gin cocktails So let’s dive into the deep roots of lilac history in Rochester, how Lilac Gin is made, and finish with some cocktail recipes you can make at home.

Lilac Gin Blog Header

“Lilacs are May in essence”

– Jean Hersey


Black Button Distilling’s Lilac Gin is steeped in the rich heritage of Rochester, New York’s official flower, the lilac. Blooming in light shades of purple, pink, white, and burgundy, Syringa vulgaris was first planted in Rochester’s Highland Park in 1892 by Horticulturist John Dunbar (aka “Johnny Lilacseed”). Designed by Frederick Law Olmstead, the Highland Botanical Park now occupies 150 acres just south of downtown Rochester. With over 1,500 lilac plants made up of 500 varieties, Highland Park boasts one of the largest collections of lilacs in any one location.

Known as “The Flower City”, Rochester celebrates this fragrant and beautiful flowering tree with one of the largest and longest-running lilac festivals in America. The first festival traces its roots back to a Sunday in early May 1898 when thousands of residents visited Highland Park to take in the glorious sight of lilacs blooming in the spring sunlight. Today, Rochester’s Lilac Festival is a much-anticipated annual celebration of art, food, music, and of course, the coveted symbol of spring and renewal – the lilac. Lasting over two weeks beginning in early May, The Rochester Lilac Festival is the largest free festival of its kind in North America.


Black Button Distilling first produced Lilac Gin in 2015, and it sold out in just 10 days. Lilac Gin is released each spring at the beginning of the Rochester Lilac Festival and pays tribute to the city’s rich botanical heritage. “We have a lot of pride in this area, so we made it our mission to distill a spirit that would embody the history and charm of the city,” said Jason Barrett, Black Button Distilling President and Master Distiller. “As Western New Yorkers, we embrace all seasons, but the spring in Rochester is like nothing else. There is a renewed energy and Mother Nature is blooming everywhere. If you could harness that feeling and put it into a bottle. . . that’s Lilac Gin.”

Lilac gin and cocktails

“Creating a good gin with a balanced botanical recipe is an art form.”

– Joel Harrison & Neil Ridley

The way Black Button Distilling crafts Lilac Gin is a unique and painstaking process that results in a soft, subtle flavor and a smooth, easy-to-drink spirit. Each lilac petal is steeped, distilled, and recombined to create a light and delicate flavor. The final product brilliantly blooms with a beautiful bouquet that comes from locally sourced lilac, lavender, rose, and hibiscus with subtle hints of juniper and coriander character that is unique to a smooth botanical gin.



Lilac Gin is perfect for vibrant, sweet, and aromatic cocktails such as Lilac Bee’s Knees or a Secret Garden. Kick back, and let the warm and happy feelings of spring wash over you with these Lilac Gin cocktails:

Lilac Bees Knees - floral gin cocktails

Lilac Bee’s Knees

2 oz Black Button Lilac Gin
1 oz Lemon Juice
¼ oz Honey Syrup
¾ oz Lavender Syrup

Shake with ice, and strain into a glass. Option to garnish with a lemon wedge and rosemary.

lilac lemonade - floral gin cocktails

Lilac Lemonade

1 ½ – 2 oz Black Button Lilac Gin
2 oz. Saranac Lemonade

Stir in a shaker, and pour into a glass with ice.

Secret Garden - floral gin cocktails

Secret Garden

1 oz Black Button Lilac Gin
1 oz Bespoke Bourbon Cream
¾ oz Rose Syrup

Shake with ice, and strain into a glass.
Garnish with an edible flower.

Lilac on the Rocks - floral gin cocktails

Lilac on the Rocks

2 oz Black Button Lilac Gin
¾ oz Honey Syrup
¾ oz. Blueberry Vanilla Syrup
½ oz. Fresh-squeezed Lemon Juice

Shake with ice, and pour into a glass. Top with soda water, and garnish with a lemon.


Honey Syrup
¼ cup Honey
¼ cup Boiling Water

Allow to cool before use.

Lavender Syrup
¼ cup Sugar
¼ cup Boiling Water
3 Tbsp dried organic Lavender

Steep for 20 minutes. Strain, and allow to cool before use.

Rose Syrup
¼ cup Sugar
¼ cup Boiling Water
3 Tbsp Stuart’s Spices dried Rose Petals

Steep for 20 minutes. Strain, and allow to cool before use.

Blueberry Vanilla Syrup
¼ cup Sugar
¼ cup Boiling Water
3 Tbsp Fresh Blueberries
½ Vanilla Beans

Steep for 20 minutes. Strain, and allow to cool before use.


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