This is a perfectly beautiful drink, made with or without alcohol. Mexican aguas frescas are drinks made of fresh fruit and water, sweetened and sparked with a squeeze of fresh lime—the perfect drink on a hot day, and healthy as well. Dried hibiscus flowers (jamaica in Spanish) make a hot-pink agua fresca with an excitingly tart, fruity flavor. Dried jamaica is sold in bulk at Mexican markets.
Yield: Makes 1 drink
1 tablespoon white sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 ounces hibiscus syrup (recipe below)
1 1⁄2 ounces 100 percent agave blanco tequila
1 ounce sparkling water
Garnish: lime wedge or cinnamon stick
Hibiscus syrup (makes about 3 ½ cups):
4 cups water
2 cups white sugar
2 cups dried hibiscus flower (jamaica)
For the Hibiscus Margarita:
1. Combine the sugar and cinnamon on a small plate. Moisten the rim of the glass with the lime wedge, dip the glass in the cinnamon sugar, and shake off the excess.
2. Fill a 12-ounce glass with ice and pour in the tequila and hibiscus syrup. Top up with sparkling water. Stir carefully. Squeeze the juice from the lime wedge you used to prepare the glass rim on top of the drink and discard the wedge. Garnish with a fresh wedge of lime or a cinnamon stick.
For the Hibiscus Syrup:
1. Combine all ingredients in a saucepan and simmer over low heat until the sugar is dissolved, stirring often. Cook at a slow simmer for 30 minutes.
2. Let stand for 2 hours (or as long as overnight), then strain into a storage jar, pressing down on the flowers. Keeps indefinitely refrigerated.
Variation: Chill a 7-ounce martini glass and prepare the rim as described. In a shaker jar, combine the ice, hibiscus syrup and tequila, along with 1 tablespoon Cointreau or Grand Marnier. Cover tightly, shake well for 15 seconds, and strain into the glass. Garnish with a thin slice of lime.