Hibiscus tea and quince holiday cocktail
A couple of months ago, I was desperately looking for quinces. I had seen them in Italy and suddenly remembered how obsessively in love I have always been with this fall fruit. I even ended up in Marin county at the San Rafael farmers' market because in my mind, if I were a farmer, where else would I sell quinces? To my utter disappointment, I was informed that I was in the wrong place. All I needed to do was drive further north to Sonoma county, the famous wine growing region. Apparently, Sonoma is some kind of quince paradise. You can come across quince trees at every turn and their owners will gladly let you pick the fruits for free. I was speechless. I was definitely not ready to give up! It must have been written in my stars because a couple of weeks ago I found what I was looking for!! ... at my local Whole Foods, of all places!
Quinces cannot be eaten raw, so I poached them and baked a cake. The syrup that resulted from the poaching process was too good to toss. Distilled quince essence. I would use it instead of perfume if I could! So I decided to play around with it.
I figured it would make a great pairing with hibiscus. I took some gin and infused it with Yerba Buena Tea Co. Citrus Hibiscus herbal tea. It's a blend of lemongrass, orange peel, hibiscus flowers and roses. I used a ratio of 10 oz / 300 ml gin to 1 1/2 teaspoons leaves and flowers and let it sit for about a week in a mason jar, shaking it every now and then. After a while it turns a beautiful deep crimson color.
This cocktail makes a perfectly sophisticated statement on all holiday tables and at formal and informal festive gatherings. Enjoy!
Ingredients for 1 cocktail
2 oz citrus hibiscus tea infused gin (see above for instructions)
4 oz parts organic apple juice
1 oz freshly squeezed lemon juice
1-2 teaspoons quince syrup
apple slices to garnish
freeze dried raspberries to garnish
To make the syrup, you will need 3 quinces, 2 cups (470 ml) water, 3/4 cup (150 gr) sugar, 1/4 cup (80 gr) maple syrup, juice of half a lemon, 1 cinnamon stick. Peel and core quinces. Slice or dice them. In a saucepan bring all ingredients to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until quinces are deep pinkish orange and soft. Drain and reserve for other recipes. Reserve syrup for cocktails.
Fill a cocktail shaker with crushed ice. Add the gin, apple juice, lemon juice and quince syrup. Shake until well chilled. Strain into a coupe glass. Garnish with an apple slice and sprinkle with crushed freeze dried raspberries.
Happy holidays, tea lovers! May your holidays be filled with fun and cheer and delicious sips of tea!
The Tea Squirrel