Straight Up: Using Roses in Cocktails
The rose garden is coming to the glass.
Rose water. Rose syrup. Hendrick’s cucumber and rose-infused gin. Sweetly ephemeral, with a hint of loamy darkness, these velvety blooms are lending their gentle essence to cocktails this summer.
But we won’t be the first to point out that the key to using these perfumed potions is moderation. Floral elements are best added to a recipe sparingly, or they risk overpowering it, reducing the drink to a cologney, one-note caricature. With a light touch, however, the delicately fragrant effects can be beautifully evocative.
Straight from the bottle, Hendrick’s gin seems to get this subtle balance just right, blending the cool vegetal crispness of cucumber and the spicy tang of citrus with the rose petals’ lush sweetness. But if you’d like to try mixing up your own floral creations this season, there are a number of other rosy options:
- The May/June issue of Imbibe includes a feature on rose water in cocktails, along with a bouquet of recipes from top mixologists.
- For broader culinary coverage (including desserts!), an article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette last month offers many edible and drinkable possibilities for roses, including a recipe for rose syrup, which can be used to make a simple but delicious champagne cocktail with your choice of sparkling wine.
Intrigued by the syrup idea, we substituted dried rose petals from our local Middle Eastern grocery for the fresh, unsprayed ones the recipe called for, and were quite taken with the sweetly fragrant, deep-crimson results:
makes one cup
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup water
1 cup dried (organic, pesticide-free) rose petals (or 2 cups fresh, organic and pesticide-free)
1 tablespoon lemon juice (optional)
Begin by making a simple syrup by combining sugar and water in a small saucepan, simmering and stirring until sugar is dissolved. Add rose petals and continue to simmer on low heat for five minutes or so. Add lemon juice and remove pan from heat. Allow mixture to steep for approximately 30 minutes, then pour through a fine-mesh strainer to remove solids. Store in the refrigerator.
2 tablespoons rose syrup (recipe above – commercial brands are also available)
prosecco (or champagne)
Pour rose syrup into the bottom of a champagne flute and then slowly fill the remainder of the glass with prosecco.
(Image: Nora Maynard)