Deprecated: Hook custom_css_loaded is deprecated since version jetpack-13.5! Use WordPress Custom CSS instead. Jetpack no longer supports Custom CSS. Read the documentation to learn how to apply custom styles to your site: in /wordpress/wp-includes/functions.php on line 6078 How to Make Peony Simple Syrup, a Margaritus Paeonia...and Other Lessons in Latin - Twyla Campbell

“Mater artium necessitas”  or, Necessity is the mother of invention, as we know it, is a phrase often attributed to Plato (thanks to an 1871 errant translation by theologian Benjamin Jowett) but was actually written by William Horman in his 1519 book of aphorisms, Vulgaria.

A few weeks ago, at the height of our peony season here, my friend, Cynthia, set out to make a batch of peony jelly.  There was a slight error in the pectin department which resulted in the batch of liquid not setting. Not one who is easily foiled, Cynthia pondered how to save this beautiful pink liquid. Out of necessity and a deep desire to waste not, want not—or  nolo ne profundant, as Horman the Latin linguist would have said—Cynthia added sugar and lemon juice thus inventing a delightfully floral simple syrup.

Mater artium necessitas, indeed.

On July 24th, I used the recipe to make a Peony Margarita or a Margaritus Paeonia, one could say, to celebrate International Tequila Day and posted the picture on Instagram. The recipe for the peony simple syrup is listed below.

Pink Peony Margarita: Patrón silver + Patrón Citrónge, peony simple syrup and lime juice, and finished with a dried rhubarb, salt and sugar rim.

This simple syrup would work so well in many cocktails. Use it with gin, add grapefruit. Muddled strawberries and basil with vodka could be interesting. I could also see it working with Aperol or Campari and prosecco.

Peonies are out of season here now, unfortunately, so save this recipe for next summer!

Peony simple syrup

Peony Simple Syrup


  • 5 cups peony petals
  • 5 cups water
  • Equal parts sugar to water
  • Juice of 1 lemon

I’m leaving her exact instructions from an email becaue they are as precious as she is:

5c Petals (shake as many ants off as possible while out in the garden
harvesting, let sit in bowl so any remaining ants abandon ship) and 5c
water, bring to boil then remove from heat and steep, covered, for
about 24 hours.

Strain petals preserving liquid (compost petals or whatever).

Add juice of a lemon and 3 cups of sugar (and 2T of ineffective pectin
if you really want to frustrate yourself).
Bring to a boil for 3 minutes. Remove from heat.
Pour into small jelly jars. Put lids on then go to bed.
Get up in the morning and note that it hasn’t set. Remove the liquid
and pour into fancy simple syrup jar.
Make yourself a “test Gimlet”.

Act like you meant for it to happen. Gift with love. ❤️