Hibiscus flowers give a rich ruby hue when infused in water. Their delicate floral notes contrast with a delicate tea-like bitterness which gives beautiful complexity to cocktails and desserts. In this recipe for a hibiscus flower cocktail, we've combined hibiscus flowers with wintry warming spice and brandy – one of Mexico's favourite spirits – to make a fabulous warming drink, and a great alternative to mulled wine or whisky toddy.
First we make a hibiscus infusion, then reduce it by around 30%, and combine with lime juice and a stiff 50ml serving of brandy per person. This gives as punchy drink, but you can go far milder if you want to drink it all evening. Just skip the reducing stage, and add as little brandy as you like.
For the hibiscus syrup Serves: 6
For the cocktail, per person
- 200ml spiced hibiscus syrup (from above)
- 2 tsp lime juice (1 lime makes approx 6 tsp juice)
- 50ml good quality brandy
- Bring the water to the boil and add the hibiscus flowers, sugar, cinnamon sticks, allspice, and cloves. Simmer for 20-30 minutes. Strain and discard the solids.
- Bring the hibiscus infusion to the boil again and reduce by a third to a half. The hibiscus syrup is ready. If you prefer, leave to cool and keep in the fridge for a couple of days.
- To make each serving of hot toddy, combine 200ml of the hot hibiscus syrup with 2tsp lemon juice and 50ml of good quality brandy.
After a stage as a chef at a London Michelin-starred restaurant Nicola became obsessed with seeking the best flavours from around the world. She started Sous Chef in 2012, and is always sharing her knowledge of ingredients and writing recipes to showcase those products. Learning from the products, Sous Chef's suppliers and her travels, Nicola has written the majority of the recipes on the Sous Chef website, all of which are big on flavour.