My cocktail game leaves a lot to be desired.
Part of the problem is that I’m dating a wine guy. And when Charlie isn’t hauling cases of rose back to his apartment (and occasionally splitting his suit pants in the process), he’s casually challenging acquaintances to homemade Old Fashioned throwdowns and brainstorming creative contents for his copper Moscow Mule cups.
So needless to say, I’m in good hands when it comes to happy hour. But as a proud healthy hedonist and maker of kale margaritas, I should probably be playing around a bit more with bourbon, bitters and the like.
One motivational element is that as part of our inevitable cohabitation, I will be coming into an extreme wealth of cocktail swag. Charlie barely owns a serving platter, but he’s got 3 types of counter-top juicing apparatuses and enough stemware to host a 50-person cocktail party with real glasses (which has happened).
But what gets in the way of my attention to cocktail detail is practicality. For a date night, it just seems like a hassle to whip up 3 types of infused this and that to create something intricate and swoon-worthy. And let’s be real, mixing bespoke concoctions to order for more than ten people doesn’t exactly sound fun either.
I remember last summer when we had friends out to Charlie’s house in Rhode Island, he sent me an email with 5 cocktail recipes for the weekend that he and his equally enthusiastic friend had put together. I had to do everything in my power to not crush all of their dreams with the more pressing question: what are we going to eat for lunch?
Playing host to a house full of people for the weekend can be a stressful prospect. So it seemed silly to me to dedicate precious kitchen real estate to juicing 4 cups of fresh lime juice and macerating strawberries in vodka. But after I loosened up a little bit (i.e. a few Aperol Spritzes later), it occurred to me that perhaps I am getting a little too old and stuck in my simplistic happy hour ways. Perhaps there is something to be said for letting creativity flow freely through a martini shaker, even if it leaves your kitchen counter tops sticky and your guests’ stomachs dangerously absent of whole foods.
So this year, in an effort to be less of a simple syrup scrooge, I decided to surprise Charlie for dinner a few weeks ago with a fun cocktail of my own creation: these hibiscus tea Arnold Palmers.
A few weeks ago I met up with my friend Kim to talk about making a career transition into the food industry. And as a thank you for the hand holding, she brought me a jam jar full of dried hibiscus petals from her recent trip to Mexico.
I’m embarrassed to say that for all the hibiscus kombucha I consume, I had never worked with it at home. Luckily, unlocking the floral, white-couch crushing power of these little petals turned out to be extremely easy and fun. I’ve been keeping a stash of fresh hibiscus tea in the fridge ever since. And on a night I was feeling particularly compelled to fight my old lady ways, I combined it with fresh lemon juice, a sensible amount of maple syrup, and VODKA for a boozy spin on the classic Arnold Palmer cocktail.
Though he was clearly judgmental about my pedestrian choice of glassware, I think Charlie was happy to have something more festive to sip on at Bar Phoebe than a Campari soda.
If you’re looking for a jazzy summer cocktail (especially one that can easily fuel a crowd of bespoke cocktail lovers), then these Arnold Palmers with hibiscus tea recipe is your ticket. Just pour a pitcher, take a sip, and let someone else worry about what’s for lunch.
Hibiscus Tea Arnold Palmers, Spiked or Sober
- 8 cups water divided
- ½ cup dried hibiscus petals
- ¼ cup maple syrup
- ½ cup lemon juice
- ½ cup vodka optional
- Lemon zest and additional wedges for garnish
- Bring 4 cups water to boil. Place the hibiscus and maple syrup in a carafe or heatproof bowl and pour the hot water over. Steep the hibiscus for 15 minutes.
- Strain the tea mixture. Add the remaining cold water, lemon juice, and vodka (if using). Chill until ready to serve.
- Pour the Arnold Palmers over ice and garnish with lemon zest and wedges.
Maple syrup is sooo much healthier than simple syrup. Never thought of it before!
Phoebe Lapine says
it dissolves really easily too!
Ann from Sumptuous Spoonfuls says
I love, love, love these for so many reasons! #1: maple syrup rocks in drinks. #2: gorgeous color! … I might use an infused vodka and a little club soda for sparkle when I make this. Pinning!
Phoebe Lapine says
thanks ann!! yes – i totally endorse the club soda. great idea!
I’ve been loving hibiscus tea lately and never really add anything to it other than some other herb for detoxing (hibiscus totally takes over and you dont taste the other stuff) but I want to try this recipe now! Thanks!
Phoebe Lapine says
It certainly is a powerful flavor! I think the lemon adds some nice punchiness though. I hope you enjoy it! xo
I never drank hibiscus tea, but I have to try it because looks tasty.