I receive piles of cookbooks each week and while many of them are just beautiful and chock full of inspiring recipes, only a few give me true pause. And when the book is about cocktails… well… I can be a tough critic.
I delighted in Shake, Stir, Pour: Fresh Homegrown Cocktails, an easy colorful book filled with my favorite sort of recipes. Katie is so vivacious via email and offered to share a favorite cocktail for Valentine’s Day. And when she mentioned a sparkling cocktail, I knew we could be friends.
Katie was inspired to make this drink with some good whole organic hibiscus flowers from Mountain Rose Herbs. She made up the syrup and added just a touch of vanilla and spice to make it more interesting. She served them for Valentine’s Day a few years ago at Oyster House (in Philadelphia) where she was bartending and they were a big hit.
I have a tub of dried hibiscus flowers in my cabinet and now they’re mingling in some boiled water just before I strain them and sweeten with organic sugar. I’m going to store the re-hydrated flowers in the fridge for an instant cocktail garnish all month. Thanks for sharing, Katie!
Love in Bloom
Yield: One drink
A small amount of Hibiscus Syrup topped with champagne and a flower in the glass and you have a beautiful looking and tasting romantic cocktail. It’s important to use a very dry sparkling wine so the acidity and dryness of the sparkling wine balances the sweet syrup and the end result cocktail isn’t too sweet and cloying.
- 1 re-hydrated hibiscus flower
- ½–¾ ounce (15 ml to 22 ml) Hibiscus Syrup to taste (recipe follows)
- 4 ounces (120 ml) Brut champagne or dry sparkling wine of your choice
- Place hibiscus flower at the bottom of a champagne flute.
- Top with Hibiscus Syrup.
- Gently pour sparkling wine down the side of the flute until almost filled. The bubbles in the wine should help the flower “bloom” at the bottom of the flute, and the wine should have turned a lovely shade of pink in the glass.
Yield: approximately 2 quarts (2 L)
Hibiscus has a lovely sweet-tart flavor and a gorgeous color. Hibiscus is used as the basis for beverages and as a vegetable dye in many cultures. Hibiscus teas, both hot and cold, are popular in Mexico, where it is known as Jamaica (ha-MAI-ca), and in the Caribbean where it’s known as sorrel. It’s simple to make and works in many different applications, both alcoholic and nonalcoholic.
- 6 cups (1.4 L) water
- 3 cups (240 g) loosely packed, dried hibiscus flowers
- 5 cups (1.2 L) sugar
- 1 tablespoon (15 ml) pure vanilla extract (optional)
- 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (also optional, but works well in several of the cocktail recipes)
- Bring water to boiling in a large pot and remove from heat.
- Stir dried hibiscus flowers into the water gently, cover, and allow to cool for several hours or overnight.
- Strain out the now re-hydrated hibiscus flowers.
- Bring hibiscus water back to a simmer and add sugar, whisking until dissolved, and remove from heat.
- Add vanilla extract and spice if desired, stirring to be certain all ingredients are fully incorporated.
Store in refrigerator for up to 1 month, or freeze up to 6 months. You can save the whole re-hydrated hibiscus flowers in Hibiscus Syrup to cover for the Love in Bloom cocktail, as a drink garnish, or just to enjoy their tart raspberry-like flavor. They are completely edible and quite delicious.
Katie M. Loeb was born in New York City and grew up in Teaneck, New Jersey. She is a sommelier, creator of craft cocktails, and author of numerous articles and cocktail recipes, which have been published in Bon Appétit, the Los Angeles Times, Imbibe, Philadelphia Magazine, Inside, and Food & Wine Magazine cocktail books. She has consulted for numerous restaurant groups and spirit brands, providing cocktail recipes, beverage lists, and operations assistance.
Photos taken by Steve Legato and recipes by Katie Loeb. All appear courtesy of Quayside Publishing Group.
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