Wednesday, 14 March 2012

The Wild Hibiscus Project

I was recently asked to create a cocktail for the Wild Hibiscus company to help promote their product on twitter and facebook. I also love a new challenge, and having never worked with hibiscus before, I was keen to play around with the hibiscus flower and syrup. The Wild Hibiscus company is a small family owned Australian company, based out of Sydney. The company has been selling Hibiscus flowers in syrup since 1997. Lee Etherington is the original creator and since ’97, the company has grown to now be selling worldwide across 30 countries.

When I began the creative process on this cocktail, I had to start thinking about what the company represented and with the Wild Hibiscus company being a small family owned operation, I wanted to create a drink which was simple, that the team could enjoy on a hot summers day back in Australia. The hibiscus flower itself is very stylish and elegant. I also felt that's what the company is trying to convey in their product and so therefore style and elegance is what this cocktail needs to be. I decided to make a variation on a classic ‘Sidecar’. This drink is known for being simple to make as well as portraying the qualities I was looking for. It is also a drink that is perfect for both men and women, and is refreshing for those hot summer nights. I wrote about the classic sidecar in a post I did a while back. The classic contains, Cognac, Cointreau and lemon juice. A simple mix of 3 ingredients working together in perfect harmony. So when it came to my hibiscus sidecar, I needed to keep it simple, but work in some of the great flavours of the hibiscus.

I started by using a “rinsing” technique. This is when the inside of the glass is rinsed with different flavors. I measured out 15ml of the wild hibiscus syrup into the bottom of the a tumbler glass. Next, instead of squeezing lemon juice into my drink (making it too sour), I chose to finely grate the zest of half a lemon in with the syrup. Roll this mixture around the glass coating the sides with the zest and the hibiscus syrup. Place your glass to one side and in a separate shaker add, 30ml of Cognac, 15ml St Germain Elderflower liqueur and lastly a dash of lime juice to pull it all together and to smooth off the harshness of the spirit. It’s also to give the drink that summer refreshing tang that a sidecar should always have. Then, add ice and shake. Go back to your glass and fill it with crushed ice. The reason for this is to hold your hibiscus and lemon zest rinse to the side of the glass. If you were to simply pour the drink straight in, you would wash the rinse away, un-doing all the earlier preparation. Strain your shaker over the crushed ice, and you’ll see that the mixture will layer on top of the syrup making it look amazing.  Finally, finish your hibiscus sidecar off with the wild hibiscus flower. The flower will sit on top of your crushed ice nicely too.

I hope the Wild Hibiscus team were happy with my creation. I hope they enjoy a few hibiscus sidecars back home in Australia.

“The Hibiscus Sidecar”
In a short glass:
15ml Wild Hibiscus Syrup
Finely Grate the zest of 1/2 Lemon
Rinse the sides of your glass

In a Shaker:
30ml Cognac
15ml St Germain Elderflower Liqueur
Dash Lime juice
Add ice and shake

Add Crushed ice to your glass
Strain the shaker over the crushed ice
Garnish with a Wild Hibiscus flower

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