My latest beverage addiction is SORREL and I haven’t been able to get enough!
Back in December, I was put up on an NPR article discussing the origins of sorrel, a drink from the diaspora that I had never heard of.
“In America, the boozy drink of Christmastime is buttery, cream-colored eggnog. But throughout the Caribbean, the sip of the season comes in a holiday-appropriate shade of ruby red: sorrel.
This sweet, cinnamon-spiced drink gets its festive deep-red shade from the flowers of roselle, a species of tropical hibiscus plant used to make it. “It has notes of family, warmth, Christmas and of being around people that you love,” says Jamaican chef Suzanne Rousseau, who with her sister, Michelle Rousseau, co-authored the vegetarian cookbook Provisions: The Roots of Caribbean Cooking.”
After reading this fascinating bit of history, I decided to make a batch. Using a combination of a couple recipes, I came up with something that is absolutely wonderful. I knew it was good stuff when my lover said that it reminded her of her early years living in Grenada. Score!!!
Honestly, when I tried my sorrel, it reminded me of bissap juice, which I tried for the first time in Paris back in September 2018.
From “The Congo Cookbook”
“Made from the dried red flowers of Hibiscus sabdariffa, a kind of hibiscus plant, Jus de Bissap (Beesap) seems to be more of a tea than a “juice”. It is often called the “national drink of Senegal”. Every busy street, train station, bus depot, and stadium will have its bissap vendors selling the drink. The dried flowers can be found in every market. Bissap is equally popular in many neighboring countries of Western Africa: both the flower and the beverage are also known as l’Oseille de Guinée, Guinea Sorrel, and Karkadé. In Arabic-speaking countries, such as Egypt and Sudan, they are called Karkaday. The dried flowers are often called dried red sorrel, sorrel, or roselle.”
After I just happened to find dried hibiscus at Honey Bee La Colmena, my favorite local Mexican market and inexpensively. It was ON! Now I can enjoy this elixir ANYTIME… with or with or without booze.
- 2lbs Dried hibiscus flowers
- 1/2lb Ginger roots (skinned and crushed to release the flavor)
- 3 Cinnamon sticks
- 2 Whole star anise
- 10 Cloves
- In this last batch, I also added some whole black peppercorns
- Orange Zest (Skin of 3 peeled oranges)
- 2 Cups of Sugar
- Gallon of Water
The Jump Off:
- In a large stock pot, combine all of your ingredients excluding the sugar & bring mixture to a nice roaring boil. Once rapidly boiling, reduce the heat and boil for about 30 minutes.
- Once your heat is off, let your concoction steep for at least 3 hours up to 5-6 hours to let all those flavors get situated!
- After steeping, strain your mixture into a pitcher then pour in your sugar stir until dissolved and watch this magic come to life. Add more sugar to taste then chill!
- Sorrel can be enjoyed over ice!
- Sorrel can be enjoyed over ice mixed with coconut rum with a twist of lime (Bacardi Coconut is a favorite)!
- Sorrel can be enjoyed over ice mixed with spiced rum (Sailor Jerry is a favorite)!
- Sorrel can be enjoyed over ice mixed with Champagne/Sparkling Wine/Prosecco as a sexier mimosa (LaMarca is a favorite Prosecco and it’s at a great price point usually around $15 or lower)!
Easy Clean Up Tip: I use a large stock pot that has a colander insert. Once I’m done steeping, I remove the colander slowly letting the tea ingredients drain. I also press the ingredients to get any remaining liquid out then empty the colander.