With crimson-hued petals and measured tartness that perks up your palate, hibiscus flowers are as seductive to me as my favourite Chanel rouge noir lipstick.
Hibiscus cocktails never fail to fill guests at my dinner parties with intrigue and I never tire of serving them with various accompaniments like zesty fruits, berries, and herbs, champagne, wine or spirits. A popular brew across Africa and in Nigeria, dried hibiscus flowers are typically drunk as a tisane, or as a refreshing drink called ‘Zobo’, brewed with fresh ginger for a spicy hit.
I am particularly obsessed with clementines and when in season I eat, drink and cook the hell out of them in drinks, salads, and desserts. At my Christmas party at the Groucho Club, we served a festive Hibiscus cocktail with elderflower, vodka and hibiscus syrup created by the club to match my poached clementine dessert, and at home my I added clementines for a zesty zing. I love how adaptable they are with the changing seasons, making hibiscus cocktails a staple at mysupperclubsand cookery classes.
Hibiscus Clementines with Dark Chocolate & Gold
What do you call this blooming beauty in your country?
Several species of hibiscus flowers are grown in India, Haiti, with varieties celebrated as the national flowers of South Korea and Malaysia. In the Caribbean it is known as sorrel; not to be confused with the leafy green variety.
I am incredibly lucky to have access to single sourced dried whole hibiscus flowers, and I can't wait to have them available to order from my online food shop.
You can buy the dried flowers from speciality and wholefood stores, while ready-made hibiscus teas are available in supermarkets. They also come in more expensive syrups used for elegant cocktails. This recipe is also great with berries like blueberries and blackberries to replace the hibiscus. When cooked in less quantities with the addition of sugar or dates, a wonderful syrup can be achieved.
Hibiscus Clementine Cocktails
My preferred method of brewing hibiscus flowers is to bring the pot to the boil and then take it off the heat, leaving it to steep. Think about it like tea, you wouldn’t boil tea, otherwise, the tea leaves would burn, thus producing a bitter brew. Treat these flowers delicately and you will be rewarded with a fabulously festive drink.
Hibiscus & Clementine Champagne Cocktail 'Zobo'
Serves 4 - 5
Preparation time: 5 minutes
Brewing time: 15 mins – 12 hours (overnight)
1 tbsp grated ginger
1 cinnamon stick
2 star anise
A handful dried whole hibiscus flowers
1.5 ltr water
zest of 1 lemon + whole lemon, sliced
Juice of 1 lemon
Juice of 5 clementines
1 clementine, sliced for garnishing
1 lemon, sliced for garnishing
5 tbsp sugar, or preferred sweetener, to taste
Champagne or white wine
1. Into a large pot, add all your spices and aromatics, water, hibiscus flowers, lemon, clementine juices and zest.
2. Place on low heat and slowly bring to the boil. Once the liquid starts to boil, take it off the heat and leave to steep. The longer it steeps, the stronger the colour and flavour of the drink.
3. Strain using a fine mesh colander. Discard the aromatics and fruits.
4. Add five tablespoons of sugar or your preferred sweetener to your taste.
5. Pour into a jug garnished with slices of clementine and lemon and keep in the refrigerator for up to 2 days or if drinking immediately, add ice to cool.
6. Enjoy alone, or mix with your choice of drinks like elderflower or, and champagne, vodka, white or red wine for a unique alcoholic or non-alcoholic drink to jazz up your party any time of the year!
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