Ontario meets the Caribbean in this colorful take on a classic Gin & Tonic.
Like many other ’twenty-somethings’, I put my time in behind the bar where the tips were good and the hours were late. I never worked anywhere that allowed me to experiment with cocktails but over the years as I’ve grown into my cooking and recipe development, I’ve also used some of these skills to experiment with cocktail recipes. And this is the kind of delicious experimentation you want to share!
This cocktail brings together a couple of local Ontario distillers with sorrel, an ingredient often used in the Caribbean (via West Africa) to make a drink that is popular through the Christmas season. Sorrel is a flower that is part of the hibiscus family and has a distinct fruity tartness reminiscent of cranberries or raspberries (don’t mistake it for the leafy green of the same name, which is from a completely different family).
In this cocktail, the floral character of the hibiscus is emphasized by using Dillon’s Rose Gin, which adds both rose hips and rose petals as aromatics alongside the typical herbaceous nature of gin. The sorrel is infused into the gin, giving it a bright, vibrant color and the beautiful tart character. Then, I use Kinsip Spirits’ handcrafted Hibiscus Rosehip bitters which have an intense juicy and floral character to emphasize both the hibiscus and the rose. Alongside the classic splash of lime, the cocktail has that delicate balance between herb and citrus laced bitterness, with the addition of a slightly floral and juicy sweetness underlying it all.
As sorrel is often enjoyed around the winter holidays in the Caribbean, it’s bright flavors and eye-popping color are perfect for those cold Ontario winter days when you need a direct flight to a Caribbean beach to brighten up your day!
Sorrel and Rose Gin and Tonic
A vibrant and floral take on a classic cocktail!
- 2oz Dillons Rose Gin, infused with sorrel (fresh or dry; see instructions below)
- 2 dashes Kinsip Spirits Hibiscus Rose bitters
- splash of lime juice
- tonic water
- lime, for garnish
Using a glass jar (something like a mason jar works well), pack it full of blossoms if you're using fresh sorrel (if using dry, you'll need significantly less; try using about a 1/4 cup for a pint sized jar). The size of the jar and how many blossoms you'll need depends on how much of the sorrel gin you want to prepare ahead of time. I used the entire 375ml bottle of rose gin into a pint sized jar. The sorrel will soak up some of the gin, leaving you with about 8-10 ozs.
Pour the gin into the jar and let sit for 2-7 days depending on desired strength of sorrel and if using fresh of dry. Using fresh flowers will take a little longer, while dry flowers can be ready in 2 days of infusion (again, depending on how many you put in). You'll know it's ready when the gin is a vibrant, deep pink color. When it's done, strain out the flowers and store in a bottle until ready for use.
To mix the drink: there's not a simpler drink to mix. Add ice to a tall, narrow glass. First add the gin, then the lime juice and bitters, then top with tonic water. Done.
Sorrel is available at Caribbean and international food grocers. Dried sorrel is available all year round, while fresh is available primarily in November and December. If you can't find sorrel, dried hibiscus flowers are more common and would be a very close substitute.