We love flowers! Not just looking at, smelling, arranging, planting, stroking (just to see if they are real!), but we also love drinking them. Nothing delights us more than sitting at our favorite bar with a cocktail covered in flowers. The intense colors contrast beautifully with the typically muted pastels of the liquid inside the glass or even enhance an already vibrantly colored cocktail. Lucky for us, it’s April and we all know what those April showers bring.
Flowers and herbs are often used in tinctures, tonics, and salves to cure upset stomachs, indigestion, inflammation, or pain relief in general. We can even use them to soothe our psychological pain, like the opium poppy, which was a fixture worldwide in the late 1800s. However, this is not about hallucinogens, this is about libations.
Orange Blossom Water
Orange blossom water is literally the essence of orange blossoms, specifically bitter oranges typically found in the Caribbean and coasts of the Americas. Blossoms and stems are boiled and the essence trapped in the steam is captured. Orange blossom water is typically used in French and Middle Eastern cooking, and to our delight, a few classic cocktails like the Ramos Gin Fizz. Probably every New York bartender has experienced this, three people deep at the bar, service tickets spilling out of the printer, and some guy you accidentally make eye contact with wants a Ramos Gin Fizz. At Skurnik we love making them. To make life easy keep cream, egg whites, and orange blossom water on hand. The Ramos Gin Fizz was apparently so popular in New Orleans that 30 or more men were hired to shake the drinks for the required 12-15 minutes. Our recipe is more simple, at about minute five, we get thirsty.
Ramos Gin Fizz
- 2 oz Greenhook Ginsmiths American Dry Gin
- .75 oz split of fresh lemon & lime juice
- .75 oz simple syrup
- 1 ounce heavy cream
- 1 egg white
- splash soda water
- orange blossom water
Combine liquid (except orange blossom water) in small shaking tin, and cream and egg white in large shaking tin (keep these separate in case you drop an egg shell, you can quickly dump and crack another egg.) Close tins tightly and do a quick dry shake. Open the tins and add ice for your wet shake. Shake this about a minute, grab your chilled fizz or Collins glass, strain contents into small tin and add a splash of soda water. Now pour all the contents into a chilled glass, which should be almost full, and place it in the freezer. Clean up your tins, talk to your friend, make more drinks, and give that guy patiently waiting for the most time-consuming drink in history a big smile, because this should all take about 1-3 minutes. Remove your Ramos Gin Fizz from the freezer. To the naked eye nothing has really changed, but add another splash of soda water and watch the contents raise up out of the glass and don’t get greedy, stop before you make a mess. From here either spray your orange blossom on the top or take an eye dropper and drop three drops directly in. Voile!
Rose water is a little more common, often used in Indian cuisine, as well as in lotions, toners, and make-up. Beckey McFalls-Schwartz, currently of Bar Moga, used it in her original cocktail— a Gershwin at Little Branch.
- 2 oz Neversink Gin
- .75 oz Giffard Ginger of the Indies
- .75 oz fresh lemon juice
- .25 oz simple syrup
- Rose water
Combine in a mixing tin, shake, and serve up in a chilled coupe. Garnish with rose water spritzed on top of the liquid and add an optional ginger candy. Sip on a rooftop in spring weather.
Flowers as Garnishes
The most important thing here is that you get organic flowers, rather than going to your local florist check at your local organic grocery store, as anything in the herb section is safe. We love working with dried lavender, chamomile, and rose buds. For fresh flowers go to the famers market and check the greens section, you’ll be surprised! Pansies, violets, and orchids are our favorite fresh flowers to use. Pansies and violets both add flavor while orchids are merely decorative, especially in Tiki cocktails like The Missionary’s Downfall, created by Don the Beachcomber circa 1948.
The Missionary’s Downfall
- 1.5 oz El Dorado Cask Aged 3yr White Rum
- .25 oz Giffard Crème de Peche de Vigne
- 1.5 oz pineapple juice
- .75 oz fresh lime juice
- .25 oz honey syrup
- 4 sprigs of mint
This drink is blended! Throw everything into your blender and blend with small amount of ice. The blended mint with the fresh pineapple juice turns the drink a rich green color and creates a beautiful froth. Pour into a chilled coupe or serve over crushed ice in a pilsner glass. Garnish lavishly with mint and an organic orchid.
Crème de Violette & Crème Yvette
Probably most famous for the Aviation cocktail, but we love a lesser known drink: The Attention. This cocktail is a take on a classic martini and can be found in Sasha Petraske’s guide, Regarding Cocktails.
- 2 oz of Hans Reisetbauer Blue Gin
- .75 oz Giffard Crème de Violette
- .75 oz dry vermouth
- 3 dashes orange bitters
Combine ingredients in a mixing glass, add ice, stir, and serve in a chilled coupe. Crack a lemon twist over the top to garnish. To be extra floral use a violet garnish as well, and instead of orange bitters we recommend lavender bitters made by Bar Keep.
Spring is blooming, now go find yourself an excuse to enjoy these delicious, flowery cocktails.