For the Tempting Tuesday theme, I am incorporating a recipe into the cocktail Advent calendar series. I am not cheating!
Ever since I have known Christmas, there has always been a bottle of Sorrel in the fridge. As I got older, Mum would make an extra one specially for Middle Sister.
It is simply called Sorrel. Not Sorrel Drink or Sorrel Juice or Sorrel Cocktail. Just Sorrel. It was never in our home at any other time of the year than the Christmas season.
The ingredients are dried petals. I believe they are from Hibiscus but have been told they are not. The picture on the packet looks like the Hibiscus flower.
The basic ingredients are dried Sorrel petals, ginger, water, rum and sugar to taste. Cinnamon, Pimento, cloves may also be added. A reminder that the quantities are “just”. How much Sorrel? Depends on how many bottles you are making. Ginger? Just. Rum? Just. You get the idea.
Use fresh Sorrel petals if they are available to you but be sure to use a lot. The advantage of the dried petals is that the flavour is stronger.
I made a batch of 3 bottles from one packet. One with rum and one without and one for right lung! I like my Sorrel quite rich and could perhaps have got 4 bottles if I diluted it a little bit.
I boiled my petals in water with grated ginger and then simmered for about an hour. I then let it sit in the pot overnight. The flavour becomes deeper and richer, the longer it steeps. I strained it the next day and added brown sugar, tasting until I liked it. When I was much younger, Mum would make it without sugar and then allow everyone to add sugar to their own glasses.
The colour is deep and beautiful. It is regal red – ruby or dark purple. The flavour is tangy (puts me in the mind of tamarind but not as tongue smacking tangy), earthy and just feels like Christmas. It is the cold drink version of Christmas mulled wine but Sorrel is not nice warm. You can feel the Vitamin C doing you good as you drink it. Seriously!
Must drink cold. Add ice. You know you are Jamaican if you take a sip of your drink and then make a ‘ole heap a noise’ shaking the ice in the glass.
I believe other Caribbean islanders drink it over the Christmas season and adding other ingredients gives them their authentic slant on it.
Verdict: I would drink this sans rum everyday. I do know that I am biased as I love this season and this drink always puts me in a good mood and makes me think of my family and Christmases past. It is my soul’s cocktail. Can’t have Christmas without Nativity, Sorrel and Fruit cake.