Monday, July 17, 2017

Hibiscus Margarita

If I could use one word to describe this Hibiscus Margarita it would be refreshing. A few other words would be beautiful, bright, pink, delicious, fruity, and boozy.

Dried hibiscus flowers are often used to make herbal hibiscus teas and also for agua fresca, a light non-alcoholic beverage. Hibiscus is also referred to as jamaica, so when purchasing dried hibiscus it may be labeled as such. You can find it online, in Latin American markets, and I myself purchased some at a local spice and tea shop.

You'll start by making a hibiscus syrup by soaking the dried hibiscus flowers (which look like little octopuses!) in boiling water and sugar.

After steeping and straining, I saved a few of the intact rehydrated hibiscus flowers to use as garnish. I just stored them in the syrup until ready to use. They aren't quite as delightful as hibiscus flowers in syrup, but they are still edible and not unlike chewy fruit leather.

The hibiscus margarita itself reminded me a bit of a less tart cranberry juice in flavor. It was not too strong, and like I said earlier incredibly refreshing.

Although a salt rim is traditional for margaritas, in this case I opted to rim my glasses with some raspberry sugar, which I purchased at the same spice and tea shop as the hibiscus. The color matched perfectly, and the flavor helped bring out fruity notes from the drink.

Hibiscus Margarita (Margarita de Jamaica)
Makes 6 to 8 drinks
(Adapted from Tacos, Tortas, and Tamales)

Hibiscus Syrup:
2 cups water
1 cup (1 ounce) dried hibiscus flowers (jamaica)
1/2 cup sugar

Single Margarita:
2 ounces hibiscus syrup
1 1/2 ounces tequila
1/2 ounce Cointreau or triple sec
1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
Ice cubes

Margarita Pitcher:
Hibiscus syrup
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons tequila
Scant 1/2 cup Cointreau or triple sec
Scant 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
Ice cubes

To make the syrup: Bring water to a boil in a small pot or saucepan. Add the hibiscus flowers and sugar, lower the heat to medium, and simmer steadily until the sugar dissolves and the syrup has thickened slightly, about 5 minutes. Strain the mixture through a sieve, and let cool. You may reserve a few of the intact (non-broken) hibiscus flowers to garnish your drinks before discarding the remaining solids. Return the hibiscus flowers for garnish back into the syrup to stay saturated until ready to use. This makes about 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 cups of syrup, and keeps up to 1 week in the fridge.

To make a single margarita: Combine hibiscus syrup, tequila, Cointreau, and lime juice with ice in a cocktail shaker. Shake very well. Strain into an ice-filled glass (rimmed with salt or sugar if desired) and serve immediately.

To make a pitcher of margaritas: Combine all of the syrup, tequila, Cointreau, lime juice, and 2 cups of ice in a pitcher and stir very well, at least 1 minute. It's important to stir for a full minute so some of the ice dissolves. Pour the mixture into 6 ice-filled glasses (rimmed with salt or sugar if desired) and serve immediately.

*Note* To rim your glasses with salt or sugar, gently rub a lime wedge along the rim of your glass (you can also use a bit of water to wet the rim). Add some salt or sugar (a flavored/colored sugar like raspberry sugar is fantastic with this hibiscus margarita) to a plate and then press the wet rim of the glass against the salt/sugar, carefully rotating the glass until there is an even coating.

More traditionally, you may squeeze the lime juice onto a plate to a depth of about 1/8-inch, and fill a more hefty amount of salt/sugar onto another plate, but that is wasteful for rimming a single glass, especially if you are using a gourmet flavored sugar as I did.


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