My drink of choice at taquerias has always been a large, refreshing glass of jamaica, the brightest and probably healthiest agua fresca in the glass barrel lineup. The beautifully scarlet infusion of hibiscus flowers is rich in Vitamin C and carries a tartness that I love. The dried flowers can be found in any Latino market, or, if you prefer, organic flowers are sold in bulk at markets like Rainbow Grocery. Brewed in boiling water, sweetened with honey, spritzed with a touch of fresh lime or orange, and then served over ice, it’s a delicious and healthful way to banish soda and other bottled drinks.
Abundant in Australia, where it’s known as roselle, hibiscus has recently been exchanging its Mexican and health-food togs for an elegant spin in the world of cocktails. A Sydney-based company, Wild Hibiscus, has begun preserving the whole flowers in syrup. A single bud and a spoonful of its sweet, rosy syrup transform a glass of prosecco into one of the prettiest drinks around. It’s just as easy to dress up a seasonal bellini or brighten a vodka martini.
For now, you can order online — a small jar of 11 flowers and a serious party pack of 50 — but keep an eye out for the jars soon in local markets.