A good New Year’s Eve cocktail is a tricky proposition. It needs to be fancy, effervescent, celebratory, with enough kick-in-the-pants to get the party started. This can be tough if you don’t drink or are serving a crowd that includes pregnant ladies and/or children.
You don’t want them to feel left out, like ‘Oh, great, one more holiday party where my husband/Mom/Dad gets to have a holly, jolly time.’ ‘I’ll just wait over here in the corner until they are ready to go home.’No Way! You absolutely want the pregnant lady to have a good time, put her feet up and have her own nice icy cocktail.
The drink you are looking for is Agua de Jamaica (pronounced ha-mike-a). A vibrant, royal, reddish-purple, this punch screams holiday. Parents will especially appreciate you giving a tall, very full glass to their small children because (shhhh…..it will never come out of their clothes). But let’s forget all that and talk about how good it tastes! Refreshing? Yes. Tangy-sweet? Uh, huh. Floral, fragrant, and complex? Absolutely.
Jamaica flowers are what we English speakers call hibiscus and what you are making is essentially sweet hibiscus tea. You can find the whole dried flowers in Latin markets and Mexican grocery stores sold in bulk bags or bins. You can also buy them online, of course. From Amazon, of course. You don’t need to buy a whole ton, a little goes a very long way. You will want to give them a quick rinse in cold water before using though, just to wash away any stray dirt.
You can also add a tipple or two of vodka if you want to make 1 drink 2 ways. Make a large batch of punch then just add a shot or two of vodka to each glass and save the rest for the non-drinkers. Serve over ice with a lime wedge and you’ve got a very pretty drink.
Happy New Year’s every one! May 2014 be one for the books.