I am so, so excited today because Rogan Howitt, co-owner and manager of The Golden Girl Rum Club, has agreed to share one of my current favorite cocktails on the menu. Rogan develops many of the cocktails we serve at GG. He’s a super talented guy who somehow manages to make every drink complex, balanced, delicious, and pretty darn good-looking too. 🙂 Take it away, Rogan …

It’s 98 degrees outside today with 200% humidity and all I can think about is frozen margaritas. Today, I’m going to explain how we make our frozen hibiscus margarita we sell at The Golden Girl Rum Club. This cocktail is a crowd favorite at the bar because of its balanced acidity, sweetness, refreshing qualities, and it’s drop dead gorgeous. I’m not lying when I say that I absolutely adore a good frozen cocktail. In fact, some of my favorite cocktails come in this slushy form. The key to making a balanced and delicious drink always starts with fresh and quality ingredients. I’ll always be a huge fan of the classic limeade concentrate, triple sec, tequila combo (I always keep these ingredients stocked at home just in case the occasion calls for it), but if you want to elevate your cocktail game, you must be using fresh juice and good liquor.

Classic margarita ingredients would include an agave-based spirit such as tequila or mezcal, an orange liqueur like Cointreau, Grand Marnier, or triple sec, and last—but most importantly—fresh lime juice. It’s 2017 and if you aren’t juicing your own limes, you’re making a mistake. Our variation uses a mixture of Blanco Tequila and mezcal (a smoky agave-based spirit) which adds depth, interest and complexity, but feel free to omit the mezcal if you aren’t an adventurous drinker. It also uses a French-style spiced orange rum based liqueur called Clement Creole Shrubb from the Caribbean, fresh squeezed lime juice, a homemade hibiscus syrup which gives this beauty its vibrant pink color (recipe below). It is sweetened by a raw sugar simple syrup which we call demerara. This may sound like a lot of ingredients for a home bar and one cocktail, but they can all be cross utilized in a number of cocktails, mocktails, and baking/cooking projects. Let your imagination be your guide.

Creating cocktails in a blender is a bit different than in a shaker, or even just building one in a glass on the rocks. While this cocktail will also work on the rocks, the recipe below will need to be altered significantly in order for it to have the same balanced flavor. The main issue is the amount of water added to the drink in the form of ice. When a cocktail is shaken, only a few ounces of water will be added to the final product. When frozen in a blender, every bit of ice added gets incorporated into the drink which causes most frozen cocktails to be HEAVILY diluted and can taste weak. We are battling that heavy dilution with the use of strongly favored ingredients, sugar and citrus. Quite a bit of each will be used to make sure this frozen concoction is full of flavor, bright and refreshing. For a shaken cocktail, just decrease the amount of sugar and citrus to taste. I would start with half as much.

Golden Girl’s Frozen Hibiscus Margarita, makes 2 servings

4 oz Blanco Tequila (or split 1:1 tequila/mezcal)

1 oz Clement Creole Shrubb (or any orange liqueur or your choice)

1 oz hibiscus syrup

2 oz fresh lime juice

1.5 oz  2:1 strong demerara simple syrup

20 oz ice

Measure all ingredients, toss into blender. Add ice last, blend until SMOOTH, pour into serving vessel and garnish with a large bouquet of mint, an edible orchid and a jumbo-sized straw.

Hibiscus syrup: Latin markets and health food stores probably carry dried hibiscus leaves called jamaica, it’s cheap, usually $5 for a large bag. They make a gorgeous dark pink syrup with some tannic acidity. This syrup is great in cocktails, add it to a soda water, in your tea, on ice cream, etc. … 

To make the hibiscus syrup:

1 cup dried jamaica

1 cup water

1 cup sugar

Add ingredients to a small/medium size saucepan over medium heat, stirring until sugar has dissolved and it comes to a boil. Remove from heat and let steep for 1 hour. Strain mixture. Syrup should keep for 1-2 weeks in a refrigerator.

Strong demerara simple syrup: Demerara syrup adds a deep, rich sweetness to cocktails. You can use a regular granulated simple syrup for this recipe, but will need to add about 1.5 times as much in order to get the same amount of sweetness. We are using a double strength version for this cocktail because we are trying to cut down on the amount of water in the final product. if you already have a 1:1 demerara on hand, just double the amount in the recipe to 1.5 oz.

To make the demerara syrup:

1 cup boiling water (we use a hot pot or heated water from a stovetop)

2 cups turbinado sugar (sugar in the raw)

Add ingredients to a container and stir until sugar is dissolved. Be careful, it’s HOT! Allow to cool before continuing with the recipe.

We go heavy on the garnish because we are here to impress, and we understand the importance of the use of the olfactory sense when drinking cocktails. A large bouquet of mint (slap it in your hand to release the oils) will be the icing on the cake with this cocktail. Flowers can also take your drinks to the next level. Edible flowers can be found in the refrigerated herb section of most well stocked grocery stores. Grow your own mint if you can! During the summer, mint is a perfect addition to all types of cocktails for a sensory extravaganza.

Everyone has their own flavor palate, so feel free to add more lime, more sugar, more hibiscus, or even more tequila, depending on your taste. Thanks for reading my first post. Hope this recipe keeps you cool and refreshed in these dog days of summer. – Rogan

Credits // Author: Rogan Howitt, Photography: Emma Chapman. Photos edited with A Beautiful Mess actions.

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