Last weekend when I was in sunny San Diego, we saw something I had never seen before. Right as we poured some cold rose and went to the patio (I wasn’t lying in the last post about our plans…) we started to see what we thought were flies in a swarm just to the south of us. Slowly they buzzed closer and we could see that they weren’t flies, but honey bees! The bees lazily buzzed slowly in a northerly direction until they one-by-one landed on a bush right in front of us. Just a giant blob of honey-drunk bees.
They kept their distance, about 6 feet out from our chairs, and could have cared less that we were there. We just sort of sat there, frozen for a while until phones were busted out and we punched “swarming bees” into Google.
What comes as no surprise to those well versed in bee-keeping (but super freaking weird to those who aren’t) is that this is the time of year honeybees “split their hives.” Essentially half of the hive gets loaded up on honey and off they go in search of greener pastures. It’s how honeybees increase their population, and made for some VERY entertaining porch viewing.
This all brings me to my inspiration for this week’s cocktail. Hibiscus is a beachy tropical flower and the petals have a tart, cranberry-like flavor. By steeping the petals in hot water you can use them to make all kinds of delicious syrups, teas, and drinks. I was feeling really adventurous and decided to make a tart Hibiscus Honey Shrub to mix with already floral and earthy gin, with an egg white to round out and soften the sting (PUN INTENDED!) of the vinegar and gin.
The Busy Bee
MAKES ONE COCKTAIL, MULTIPLY AS NEEDED
2 oz gin
1.5 oz Hibiscus Honey Shrub (recipe below)
1 egg white
Dash agnostura bitters
Hibiscus Honey Shrub (The More You Know: a shrub is a pre-refrigeration method of preserving seasonal fruit juices. It includes sugar, fruit juice, and vinegar and is a delightful addition to many cocktails)
1 C Superfine Sugar
1 C Hibiscus Petals, dried
1 C Water
Apple Cider Vinegar
Method: First, you must create the hibiscus syrup. Combine the sugar, hibiscus petals and water in a small saucepan over medium high heat. Bring mixture to a boil and set aside to cool. Strain through cheesecloth lined fine mesh strainer and set aside to cool. This syrup as it stands can be mixed with water to make a delicious refreshing iced tea or drizzled on top of ice cream or added to salad dressings (you get the point– it’s versatile).
For the shrub: take equal parts Hibiscus Syrup, honey, and apple cider vinegar and mix well. Set aside.
For the cocktail: in a shaker, add the gin, shrub, egg white and bitters. Shake vigorously for 30 seconds (you will start to feel pressure). Carefully remove the top and fill 3/4 of the way with ice. Replace cap and continue shaking LIKE YOU MEAN IT for a good 30 seconds. Strain into coupe glass. Garnish with bee pollen and/or Hibiscus Syrup (optional).
ALL IMAGES AND TEXT © REBA TOLODAY / THE PROPER BINGE