I believe the first time I ever had Sorrel was in Ann Arbor at college. Technically it was Red Zinger tea that the restaurant doctored with some citrus and spice, but I was addicted. It wasn’t until I moved to NYC that would have real Sorrel for the first time. I first ran into it at a small Jamaican juice stand in the East Village. Later, I would run a kitchen with several cooks from Trinidad. The Sorrel they brought to work was incredible.
When I decided to quit drinking, I began researching Non-Potent Happy Hour alternatives that were better than juice and club soda. Sorrel is a perfect choice. It’s tart & spicy flavor makes the perfect base for soft cocktails. It’s deep crimson color makes for a spectacular presentation. It mixes well with club soda, tonic, ginger ale and even ginger beer. The addition of bitters can amp up the spice and citrus flavors.
On a recent run to my favorite spice shop – Dual in the East Village – I bought a bag of dried hibiscus and decided it was time to make my own Sorrel. I prefer to keep the sugar content fairly low. I choose to focus and highlight the tartness. If you want a sweeter drink, add simple syrup or use ginger ale for a mixer.
One major note – Sorrel is a deep beautiful crimson color that will stain any plastic. It also will pick up a metallic tang if you do not use non-reactive pans. Use a heavy non-reactive pan to brew and then store in a glass jar or bottle.
SORREL SEEMS TO BE THE HARDEST WORD
Fresh brewed sorrel, ginger bitters, clove cocktail spice
Makes 1 drink
4oz fresh brewed Sorrel
8-10 drops Addiction Clove Cocktail Spice
8-10 drops Hudson Standard Ginger Bitters
Take a 12oz glass and add a few ice cubes. Pour in the Sorrel and top off with club soda. Add the cocktail spice and bitters. Gently stir.
1 cup sorrel
3 cinnamon sticks (3-inch sticks)
½ tsp whole cloves
1 orange peel
1 3-inch piece of ginger, peeled & grated
¼ cup turbinado sugar
5 cups water
Combine everything in a non-reactive saucepan. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat & simmer 30 minutes – stirring occasionally. Let cool. Strain and a pour into a bottle. Keep in refrigerator.