The JH Hibiscus Margarita blends enticing, dark hibiscus syrup with Cointreau, lemon, lime and tequila. Tangy. Fruity. Strong. It’s a beautiful cocktail.
One year ago today I flew off to Chicago for a short break with my best friend. Whilst there, I had a stunning Hibiscus Margarita in the Signature Room of the John Hancock Center. It was a blend of hibiscus syrup, Cointreau, lemon, lime and tequila. It was tangy, fruity and strong. Just how I like my cocktails.
The JH Hibiscus Margarita is my re-creation of that drink.
I’m not normally a tequila kind of girl, but it was the mention of hibiscus that drew me in and made me order a margarita. I like to try unusual flavours. It did not disappoint.
Hibiscus is a flower that is commonly dried and used in herbal tea. It tastes floral and fruity. It is quite punchy and delivers juicy cranberry & raspberry flavours. That’s why it teams up so well with the lemon & lime in this Hibiscus Margarita.
To incorporate the hibiscus flavour into my margarita, I created a syrup from some dried hibiscus flowers. I have to warn you how wonderful that syrup is:
It really is something special.
And what I really can’t get enough of in this Hibiscuc Margarita is a sip of that vibrant, sweet, tangy hibiscus syrup followed by a strong, hearty lick of tequila.
After my first taste of the Signature Room Hibiscus Margarita I knew instantly I would be attempting to make my own at home. At that time, the idea of blogging had not even crossed my mind. Back then I just called it ‘that cocktail I had up the Hancock Tower’. Not very glam. Not very descriptive. In fact, an utterly useless name (scoff).
I generally find it hard to come up with names that are interesting, appropriate and not totally ridiculous. This time I have cracked it though. Hibiscus & Margarita tell you exactly what you can expect. But here’s the best bit – JH are not only the initials of the place I first savoured this drink. They are also those of my best friend, whom I was with when I dived into this drink, high up in Chicago. The JH Hibiscus Margarita. I suddenly feel like a genuine genius. 🙂
Forgive me for getting carried away, but well, the hibiscus syrup is simply too gorgeous to keep solely for the drinkers. For the non-drinkers and children amongst us, I’ve also created a Hibiscus & Raspberry Soda drink. It’s divine.
I’ve also got a number of recipes I’m working on, due out in the autumn, that will make further use of this bewitching, beautiful hibiscus liquid. So now you have plenty of reasons to grab a bag of dried hibiscus flowers and make the syrup.
You can buy ready-made hibiscus syrup, but it is relatively expensive. I recommend making your own for a fraction of the price in less than 30 minutes. You’ll also get to enjoy watching the ingredients turn into that gorgeous, deep ruby coloured syrup. ♥♥♥
Anyway, Chicago. Why was I there? Well, last year I had a significant birthday.
Once you approach 40 it’s like an invitation for everybody to demonstrate their fantastic memory skills by pointing out that you will soon be 40…. Then repeating that small,
insignificant, fact every time they see you. Every time.
My best friend did not join in this age bashing festival because she
loves me dearly was also 40 last year.
We decided that we would accept the barrage of age reminders and the age related jokes in good faith. We also hatched a plan to celebrate in style by skipping off to Chicago for a long weekend.
We had 4 days of fun in this fabulous city. The sky was blue & it was warm the whole time. That was just as well since wherever we go on our hols we generally spend our time wandering around outside, gawping at the scenery & architecture (plenty of that in Chicago).
I got slightly obsessed by The Bean (aka Cloud Gate) and trying to squeeze a Toy Story Hamm Piggy Bank into my suitcase for Hannah. Plus, since we are both huge ER fans, we got ourselves onto a bit of an ER related trail, complete with a ‘quote from the show’ game that lasted the entire length of the holiday. Should I ever be admitting that? Probably not.
I do wish that I had been blogging one year ago. Then I would have taken more notice of the eateries we visited. I can, however, tell you about a couple of fab places that stick in my memory:
- The Book Cellar – a bookstore where you can not only browse books (you don’t say) but also buy glasses of wine. Now that’s a great concept. Obviously, I had to be dragged out of the cookery section
- Bin 36 – serves well matched wine flights along with enticing cheese plates (they have relocated to 161 North Jefferson Street since our visit)
Of course, bagging a window seat in the Signature Room, slowly sipping a well made cocktail like the Hibiscus Margarita and taking in the far-reaching views is hard to beat too.
All in all, Chicago at 40 was a blast. Whenever I make myself the JH Hibiscus Margarita, I’ll be thinking fond memories. Cheers JH.
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- 25 g/ 1oz Dried hibiscus flowers
- 240 ml/ 1 cup Water
- 250 g/ 1 cup Caster sugar
- 30 ml/ 2 tbsp Hibiscus syrup
- 20 ml/ 4 tsp Lime juice
- 20 ml/ 4 tsp Lemon juice
- 20 ml/ 4 tsp Cointreau
- 80 ml/ 1/3 cup White tequila (or silver tequila)
- Lime wedges
- Salt crystals
- 30 ml/ 2 tsp hibiscus syrup
- 12 raspberries
- Lime wedges
- Lemon-Lime Soda (such as Sprite or 7-UP)
To Make the Syrup:
Put the hibiscus flowers, sugar and water into a saucepan. Heat gently, stirring frequently until the sugar has dissolved. Bring to the boil, then turn the heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes
Take off the heat and let the mixture steep for 10 more minutes. Strain the syrup through a sieve, bottle and, once cool, store in the fridge (it will keep well for 1 month)
To Make the JH Hibiscus Margarita:
Begin by salting the rim of the glasses: pour the salt onto a small plate. Rub the rim of the glass with a wedge of lime and then upturn the glass and dip the very tip of it into the salt. Try not to press the glass in too deeply - just a light covering of salt is all you are after
Add ice cubes to the glasses, along with a wedge of lime. Pour the hibiscus syrup over the ice, then top with the lemon & lime juices and the Cointreau
Finally add the tequila and drop a couple of sip straws into the glass. Stir gently to mix a little of the syrup into the cocktail, but leave a lovely deep layer of hibiscus at the bottom
To Make the Hibiscus & Raspberry Soda:
Layer the ice, lime wedges and raspberries to the top of two tall glasses
Pour 15ml of the syrup into each glass (admire how beautiful this looks as it trickles down the ice)
Top up with lemon-lime soda and serve with a straw or a stirrer