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Hibiscus (aka Jamaica) in Mixed Drinks

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#1 Chris Amirault

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Posted 22 January 2006 - 07:33 PM

Has anyone experimented with hibiscus in mixed drinks? I have been tinkering around with some very strong hibiscus tea, some gingered simple syrup, and a few other things (rum, brandy, bourbon, tequila, cachaca). I can't seem to find any recipes that include it. Ideas?
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#2 eje

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Posted 23 January 2006 - 12:21 PM

Chris,

I'm very fond of Hibiscus (Jamaica, Jamaican Sorrel, Karkarde...) as well.

Around Halloween last year I came up with what my wife named the Chupacabra.

It's a pretty tasty sour. I don't know if you've experienced this part, but, when I made the hibiscus tea (1 cup rinsed flowers, 3 cups hot water, steep for a couple hours, strain through cheesecloth, squeezing out as much liquid as possible, sweeten with 1 cup sugar) it thickened to a certain extent.

When vigorously shaken it created a fairly stable foam and the drink did have a thickened texture not dissimilar to those made with egg whites.

-Erik
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#3 Chris Amirault

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Posted 23 January 2006 - 12:27 PM

Great drink -- and yep, I've noticed that, too, esp if you really squeeze that cheesecloth. I'll have to fiddle with the ratios a bit bc my hibiscus tea isn't sweetened. Ever try that with gingered syrup?
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#4 eje

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Posted 23 January 2006 - 01:03 PM

Great drink -- and yep, I've noticed that, too, esp if you really squeeze that cheesecloth. I'll have to fiddle with the ratios a bit bc my hibiscus tea isn't sweetened. Ever try that with gingered syrup?

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Not yet; but, many of the recipes for Jamaican Sorrel Punch I've found on the internet contain a pretty healthy dose of ginger (and other spices). The next time I make hibiscus tea I'm planning on trying something similar to one of those. Probably spike it with some Wray & Nephew and see how it goes down.
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#5 Chris Amirault

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Posted 23 January 2006 - 01:05 PM

Trust me, man, it will go down very nicely.
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#6 eje

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Posted 23 January 2006 - 02:29 PM

Oh, I've had this idea for a drink for a while but haven't had a chance to work out the details.

Add sweetened hibiscus punch to the bottom of a chilled tall glass. Fill with crushed ice. Pour on lime juice and light rum (maybe selzer?), add more ice, top off with dark rum (and maybe angostura bitters).

I have this picture in my head of it starting in three layers.

Maybe call it "Ice Cream for Crow".

:wink:

There's a 1234 rule for this kind of drink. I can never quite remember which is which. I think it is:

1-sweet
2-sour
3-strong
4-weak

added gratuitous beefheart quote.

Edited by eje, 23 January 2006 - 02:36 PM.

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#7 gethin

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Posted 25 January 2006 - 10:40 AM

Has anyone experimented with hibiscus in mixed drinks?

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Has anyone come accross Schweppes "African Tonic Water" ? I've only seen it in France so far, I think it's just been launched there.

Its flavoured with hibiscus flowers, is much sweeter than normal tonic water , only a slight quinine flavour and a nice pink colour (if you like that sort of thing).

I find it too sweet by far, but my 99 yr old grandmother likes it. She particularly liked it with calvados (about 50/50) , but also in her gin and tonic (to which she also adds a good dash of Pernod, which given the quality of French supermarket gin is probably a good idea).

Gethin

#8 Snowy is dead

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Posted 25 January 2006 - 01:54 PM

When I was in Egypt, they had hibiscus juice everywhere. They drank it like oj. Fairly thick, very rich flavor. kind of reminds me of pomegranate juice. You should be able to find the real stuff, not just the teas, in Middle Eastern stores. Hibiscus juice is something that you serve to guests as part of hospitality, so it shouldn't be too hard to find. We have lots of them around Boston

Maybe with a nice gin...mmm

#9 eje

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Posted 10 March 2006 - 10:47 PM

This was a quite nice caipirinha variation.

2 oz decent Cachaca
3 mexican or key limes, stemmed and quartered
simple syrup to taste

3/4 oz hibiscus punch*

Mash 'em up limes with a tablespoon of simple syrup. Add some ice and cachaca, shake until well chilled. Check sweetness and add additional simple syrup if necessary. Pour into an old fashioned glass and drizzle hibiscus punch on top. After enjoying lava lamp like effects, swizzle and pretend you are somewhere tropical.

*this time I went with a mexican jamaica punch recipe, but, added some of the spices usually used in jamaican sorrel punch. 1 cup sorrel flowers, 3 cups water, 1 hunk of ginger sliced and crushed, 2 cinnamon sticks crushed, 6 allspice seeds crushed. Bring water to boil, add spices and sorrel. Allow to steep overnight and strain through cheescloth.

edit - clarified instructions.

Edited by eje, 11 March 2006 - 04:05 PM.

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#10 detlefchef

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Posted 11 March 2006 - 10:58 AM

I've done hibiscus mimosas before and they were pretty tasty.

#11 mixtress

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Posted 22 March 2006 - 09:44 PM

At Flatiron, we do a cocktail called the Hibiscus Swizzle. I use a hibiscus/ strawberry tea made by Serendipitea, and make a syrup out of it by brewing a strong pot of tea, and adding equal parts sugar to the tea. The Swizzle is gin based, and one of our most popular cocktails.

#12 KatieLoeb

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Posted 22 March 2006 - 09:50 PM

My local Jamaican take-out place, Jamaican Jerk Hut (featured prominently in the film In Her Shoes with Cameron Diaz) sells both a delicious Ginger Beer (more akin to a Ginger juice that is thick and fibrous like Pineapple juice) and a Sorrel punch. I've made some fabulous cocktails in the past with the Ginger Beer (a Lemon-Ginger Cosmo that was quite delicious), so I'll have to find a way to mess around with some of their Sorrel Punch and see what happens. I can totally see how those flavors would work in a tropical warm weather drink.

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#13 jsmeeker

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Posted 28 February 2009 - 02:43 PM

I was in my local Hispanic supermarket today picking up some dried chilies when I spied the Jamaica. I've had agua de jamaica before, as well as the Jarrito's jamaica flavored soda. But I have never made it before at home. So, I picked up a half pound bag.

For those not totally familiar, Agua de Jamaica is made from the hibiscus flower. It's made like brewing tea. The dried flowers so into hot water, along with sugar, to steep. The end result is a tasty beverage that is very popular south of the [U.S.] border. Popular in the USA, too.

The flavor of it is tart. Like cranberry juice. The color is dead ringer for it as well. I immediately wondered if this could work in cocktails the way cranberry juice does. I was thinking a variation of the Cosmopolitan. Use the jamaica "tea" in place of the cranberry. I think it may also work nicely in a margarita. Just a little splash of it.

Has anyone else ever used this in cocktail?

Jeff Meeker, aka "jsmeeker"
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#14 cocktailgeek

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Posted 28 February 2009 - 02:54 PM

I was in my local Hispanic supermarket today picking up some dried chilies when I spied the Jamaica.  I've had agua de jamaica before, as well as the Jarrito's jamaica flavored soda.  But I have never made it before at home.  So, I picked up a half pound bag.

For those not totally familiar, Agua de Jamaica is made from the hibiscus flower. It's made like brewing tea. The dried flowers so into hot water, along with sugar, to steep.  The end result is a tasty beverage that is very popular south of the [U.S.] border.  Popular in the USA, too.

The flavor of it is tart. Like cranberry juice. The color is dead ringer for it as well. I immediately wondered if this could work in cocktails the way cranberry juice does.  I was thinking a variation of the Cosmopolitan. Use the jamaica "tea" in place of the cranberry. I think it may also work nicely in a margarita.  Just a little splash of it.

Has anyone else ever used this in cocktail?

View Post


I've used hibiscus to make a syrup, then used that in cocktails. I steep the hibiscus in hot water, then strain out the flowers and make a 1:1 syrup with sugar.

1.5 oz gin
.75 oz. lemon juice
.75 oz hibiscus syrup
shake well and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
top with champagne.
lemon twist.
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#15 jsmeeker

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Posted 28 February 2009 - 03:19 PM

I was in my local Hispanic supermarket today picking up some dried chilies when I spied the Jamaica.  I've had agua de jamaica before, as well as the Jarrito's jamaica flavored soda.  But I have never made it before at home.  So, I picked up a half pound bag.

For those not totally familiar, Agua de Jamaica is made from the hibiscus flower. It's made like brewing tea. The dried flowers so into hot water, along with sugar, to steep.  The end result is a tasty beverage that is very popular south of the [U.S.] border.  Popular in the USA, too.

The flavor of it is tart. Like cranberry juice. The color is dead ringer for it as well. I immediately wondered if this could work in cocktails the way cranberry juice does.  I was thinking a variation of the Cosmopolitan. Use the jamaica "tea" in place of the cranberry. I think it may also work nicely in a margarita.  Just a little splash of it.

Has anyone else ever used this in cocktail?

View Post


I've used hibiscus to make a syrup, then used that in cocktails. I steep the hibiscus in hot water, then strain out the flowers and make a 1:1 syrup with sugar.

1.5 oz gin
.75 oz. lemon juice
.75 oz hibiscus syrup
shake well and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
top with champagne.
lemon twist.

View Post


That sounds like another interesting way to use it. I assume that when you steep the flowers, you aren't using sugar since you essentially use that "tea" as the water in a 1:1 simple?

You're drink sounds like a interesting twist to the French 75. Do you have a name for it?

Jeff Meeker, aka "jsmeeker"
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#16 cocktailgeek

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Posted 01 March 2009 - 04:43 AM

I was in my local Hispanic supermarket today picking up some dried chilies when I spied the Jamaica.  I've had agua de jamaica before, as well as the Jarrito's jamaica flavored soda.  But I have never made it before at home.  So, I picked up a half pound bag.

For those not totally familiar, Agua de Jamaica is made from the hibiscus flower. It's made like brewing tea. The dried flowers so into hot water, along with sugar, to steep.  The end result is a tasty beverage that is very popular south of the [U.S.] border.  Popular in the USA, too.

The flavor of it is tart. Like cranberry juice. The color is dead ringer for it as well. I immediately wondered if this could work in cocktails the way cranberry juice does.  I was thinking a variation of the Cosmopolitan. Use the jamaica "tea" in place of the cranberry. I think it may also work nicely in a margarita.  Just a little splash of it.

Has anyone else ever used this in cocktail?

View Post


I've used hibiscus to make a syrup, then used that in cocktails. I steep the hibiscus in hot water, then strain out the flowers and make a 1:1 syrup with sugar.

1.5 oz gin
.75 oz. lemon juice
.75 oz hibiscus syrup
shake well and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
top with champagne.
lemon twist.

View Post


That sounds like another interesting way to use it. I assume that when you steep the flowers, you aren't using sugar since you essentially use that "tea" as the water in a 1:1 simple?

You're drink sounds like a interesting twist to the French 75. Do you have a name for it?

View Post


Correct on the sugar. Also on the French 75. That was the inspiration. For some reason, the hibiscus seemed like an asian ingredient, so I called the drink a Tokyo 75. I now know that hibiscus grows from Mexico to Egypt. Ah, well.
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#17 RoyalSwagger

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Posted 01 March 2009 - 11:42 AM

I infused some gin with hibiscus and created a drink called The Hi-Society

Hi-society
Hibiscus Infused Gin
Sweet Vermouth
Lemon
dash Sugar
3 Generous Dashes Peychauds

Don't remember the ratio sadly, written down somewhere at work.
Simple drink I created early in my bar career, I was slightly influenced by a drink at PDT about 2 years back.

#18 mkayahara

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Posted 01 March 2009 - 12:01 PM

I've been thinking about jamaica in cocktails recently, too. I was first turned on to the idea by this video from Alberta Straub, but she doesn't give any specific drink recipes to use it. I imagine it mixes well with rum, gin and tequila? I've made a drink a few times with Appleton V/X, lime juice, amaretto and cranberry juice, but you need to use *real* cranberry juice (not the stuff that's been cut with apple juice) for the flavour to come through. I wonder how it would work with agua de jamaica...
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#19 jsmeeker

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Posted 01 March 2009 - 12:53 PM

I infused some gin with hibiscus and created a drink called The Hi-Society

Hi-society
Hibiscus Infused Gin
Sweet Vermouth
Lemon
dash Sugar
3 Generous Dashes Peychauds

Don't remember the ratio sadly, written down somewhere at work.
Simple drink I created early in my bar career, I was slightly influenced by a drink at PDT about 2 years back.

View Post



That sounds interesting. How did you infuse the gin? Just empty a bottle of gin into a container, add some amount of dried flowers, then steep at room temp for some period of time?

Jeff Meeker, aka "jsmeeker"
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#20 bostonapothecary

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Posted 01 March 2009 - 01:31 PM

I infused some gin with hibiscus and created a drink called The Hi-Society

Hi-society
Hibiscus Infused Gin
Sweet Vermouth
Lemon
dash Sugar
3 Generous Dashes Peychauds

Don't remember the ratio sadly, written down somewhere at work.
Simple drink I created early in my bar career, I was slightly influenced by a drink at PDT about 2 years back.

View Post



That sounds interesting. How did you infuse the gin? Just empty a bottle of gin into a container, add some amount of dried flowers, then steep at room temp for some period of time?

View Post



we used to steep two teaspoons in a liter of gin for 40 minutes but if you shake vigorously you can probably be done in 30 seconds because it starts to infuse really fast.

i like the hibiscus & spice blends but too much mono hibiscus reminds me of hawaiian punch and socialism. my favorite contrast for spiced hibiscus is caraway aquavit like linie or o.p. anderson.

hibiscus and juniper can be tasty but in a hot drink that i put on the menu i added a potent spruce tree honey for its exotic shades of piney freshness-meets molasses
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#21 mkayahara

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Posted 08 March 2009 - 01:14 PM

I've made a drink a few times with Appleton V/X, lime juice, amaretto and cranberry juice, but you need to use *real* cranberry juice (not the stuff that's been cut with apple juice) for the flavour to come through. I wonder how it would work with agua de jamaica...

View Post

Finally got around to trying this out last night:
2 oz. Appleton V/X
3/4 oz. amaretto
1/2 oz. lime juice
1/2 oz. hibiscus tea (1/4 cup dried hibiscus flowers and 2 Tbsp. brown sugar in 2 cups of water, brought to a simmer and steeped for about 3 hours, then strained and chilled)

I quite liked it, and my guests seemed to as well. The flavours all married very nicely.
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#22 Reignking

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Posted 09 March 2009 - 07:41 AM

Fish, an excellent restaurant in Charleston, was using hibiscus this weekend, even garnishing with the sorrel flower. I'll try to find out what they were mixing...

#23 KatieLoeb

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Posted 09 March 2009 - 12:15 PM

I currently have a cocktail on the list at Chick's called "Le Fleur Rouge". It's a hibiscus infused daiquiri variant. A put about 1/3 cup of crushed jamaica into a bottle of Appleton V/X at the start of a shift. I leave it right next to the register so it's constantly in my view/in my way. Every time I go near it I shake it hard. 5 or 6 hours later, when I have time, I strain it through a fine bar strainer, rinse out the bottle with a little Appleton white and then water to remove the little bits. Funnel the now screaming red and floral scented rum back into the bottle. Then I make the drinks with it.

Le Fleur Rouge

2 oz. hibiscus infused Appleton V/X
.75 ounce homemade lime cordial
.5 ounce fresh lime
.5 ounce Demerara simple syrup
.25 ounce Luxardo maraschino
2 dashes Fee Brothers Cherry bitters

Shakes and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a lime wedge. Looks very beautiful in the glass - bright red and smells delicious. Tastes like a red popsicle!

Edited by KatieLoeb, 09 March 2009 - 06:30 PM.

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#24 mkayahara

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Posted 09 March 2009 - 02:46 PM

Katie, that sounds great. Good thing my bottle of Appleton V/X is almost empty! Would I be able to sub Rose's for your homemade lime cordial?
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#25 KatieLoeb

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Posted 09 March 2009 - 06:27 PM

Katie, that sounds great. Good thing my bottle of Appleton V/X is almost empty! Would I be able to sub Rose's for your homemade lime cordial?

View Post


Thanks Matthew. You could totally sub the Rose's if you wanted to, but the recipe for the Homemade Lime Cordial is both pretty easy and tastes a heck of a lot better, IMHO. The homemade is less sweet than the Rose's too, I think, so you might want to be careful if subbing in the Rose's. I guess you'd have to make the cocktail and try it out and see if it was too sweet for you. I tried to proportion the recipe so that the juice of the lime wedge garnish (1/8 of a regular sized lime, squeezed and plopped into the glass) would be just enough to make it taste perfect to my palate. YMMV.

Edited by KatieLoeb, 09 March 2009 - 06:34 PM.

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#26 mkayahara

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Posted 09 March 2009 - 06:34 PM

Well, I guess I'll add lime cordial to the list of homemade syrups to make, right after orgeat and falernum! :biggrin:

(BTW, and I hope this isn't too pedantic, but "fleur" is a feminine noun in French, so it should be La Fleur Rouge.)
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#27 KatieLoeb

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Posted 09 March 2009 - 06:44 PM

Clearly I didn't take French! :raz:

I'll fix the typo on the next menu, thanks...

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#28 judiu

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Posted 09 March 2009 - 07:08 PM

For the benefit of anyone wondering about the "thickening" quality of hibiscus, let me remind you that, biologically, it's related to okra, ergo the musciliganius (sp?) quality of the juice.
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#29 KD1191

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Posted 14 March 2009 - 10:50 PM

I've seen hibiscus syrup in two bars:

At The Violet Hour in Chicago, one of my favorite drinks is the Summer Old Fashioned (a classic OF with hibiscus syrup). They also use it in a very tasty drink they call the Eyes Wide (Bulleit Bourbon, Grapefruit, Ginger Juice, Raspberry Syrup, Hibiscus Syrup).

At Le Bar du Plaza Athénée in Paris, they have a section of the menu devoted to drinks made with hibiscus syrup. Here's a picture. I had the Rose de Chine...a sort of hibiscus mule. I'm not normally a vodka drinker, but the muddled fresh ginger and the addition of the delicious flowery syrup was worth it.

Edited by KD1191, 14 March 2009 - 11:01 PM.

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#30 jsmeeker

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Posted 22 June 2009 - 04:47 PM

I finally got around to making some Jamaica syrup over the weekend..

used one cup of flowers to 3 cups of water. Brought it up to a boil, then steeped for two hours. I then strained that. At this point, I still had not added any sugar. I took one cup of the brewed 'tea' and added 1 cup sugar. Brought it up to a boil, then let it cool. I had my hibiscus syrup (the remainder was sweetened enough to make tasty glass of 'agua refreseca de jamaica')


Now, onto cocktails.. My first try was simply to add a squirt to my regular margarita. It was OK. But after that, I made a simple substitution. I simply used the jamaica syrup instead of the Cointreau. I am not sure what to call this, but I thought it was pretty tasty. If I had some champagne or sparkling wine on hand, I would try cocktailgeek's French 75 riff. I would also like to try out mkayahara's drink that uses the Appleton rum.

Jeff Meeker, aka "jsmeeker"
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