With crimson-hued petals and measured tartness that perks up your palate, hibiscus flowers are as seductive to me as my favourite Chanel rouge noir lipstick. Hibiscus cocktails never fail to fill guests at my dinner parties with intrigue and I never tire of serving them with various accompaniments like zesty fruits, berries, and herbs, champagne, wine or spirits.
I am particularly obsessed with clementines and when in season I eat, drink and cook the hell out of them in drinks, salads, and desserts. At my Christmas party at the Groucho Club, we served a Hibiscus cocktail with elderflower, vodka and hibiscus syrup created by the club to match my poached clementine dessert. At my Christmas parties at home, I am adding clementines to my hibiscus cocktail for a zesty zing.
A popular brew across Africa, in Nigeria, they are typically drunk as a tisane, or as a refreshing drink called ‘Zobo’, brewed with fresh ginger for a spicy hit. What do you call it in your country?
In England, I know I am incredibly lucky to have access to great produce, spices, herbs and such flowers. If you cannot find whole dried hibiscus flowers, use the ready-made teas. Dried hibiscus flowers are readily available in Nigeria in the markets of big cities and in rural areas. It is a delightful drink enjoyed by all. In England and other parts of the world, you can buy ready-made hibiscus teas in supermarkets and organic health shops, they also come in syrups in glass jars. This recipe is also great with chocolate, berries like blueberries and blackberries to replace the hibiscus.
My preferred method of brewing hibiscus flowers is to bring the pot to the boil and then take it off the heat, leaving it to steep. Think about it like tea, you wouldn’t boil tea, otherwise, the tea leaves would burn, thus producing a bitter brew. Treat these flowers delicately and you will be rewarded with a fabulously festive drink.
Hibiscus & Clementine Champagne Cocktail / Zobo Champagne
Preparation time: 5 minutes
Brewing time: 15 mins – 12 hours (overnight)
1 tbsp grated ginger
1 cinnamon stick
2 star anise
A handful + 1/2 dried whole hibiscus flowers
1.5 ltr water
zest of 1 lemon + whole lemon, sliced
Juice of 1 lemon
Juice of 5 clementines
1 clementine, sliced for garnishing
1 lemon, sliced for garnishing
5 tbsp sugar, or preferred sweetener, to taste
Champagne or white wine
- Into a large pot, add all your spices and aromatics, water, hibiscus flowers, lemon, clementine juices and zest.
- Place on low heat and slowly bring to the boil. Once the liquid starts to boil, take it off the heat and leave to steep. The longer it steeps, the stronger the colour and flavour of the drink.
- Strain using a fine mesh colander. Discard the aromatics and fruits.
- Add five tablespoons of sugar or your preferred sweetener to your taste.
- Pour into a jug garnished with slices of clementine and lemon and keep in the refrigerator for up to 2 days or if drinking immediately, add ice to cool.
- Enjoy alone, or mix with your choice of drinks like elderflower or, and champagne, vodka, white or red wine for a unique alcoholic or non-alcoholic drink to jazz up your party any time of the year!
Cin Cin! Like the Italians say!
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Happy Christmas with lots of love and hibiscus kisses from me to you!