Hibiscus Is In

Hibiscus has a beautiful color and a fruity/floral flavor with an addictive bitter edge, much like a cranberry. As befits its traditional use as a cooling beverage, it's usually found in iced tea, punch, or Mexican aguas frescas. But it's been creeping onto cocktail menus too, like at Manhattan's Apothéke, which serves a Five Points with hibiscus, bitters, grape juice, and sugarcane-infused rum, and at D.C.'s Café Atlántico, where the Old Man & the Sea blends hibiscus-infused rum with lime and is served with um, hibiscus air. Look, I didn't write the cocktail menu.

Hibiscus has also been showing up in desserts of late. Whackadoo San Francisco ice cream shop Humphry Slocombe made a hibiscus-beet sorbet in March; "Whole hibiscus flowers and oven-roasted beets just b*tch slapped all other sorbets," writes the gleeful sorbet-maker on Slocombe's Twitter feed. New York restaurant Per Se's $295 vegetable tasting menu has a hibiscus dessert option too: the "White Hibiscus" has hibiscus jelly gluing together layered cakes, with sweetened hibiscus foam on the side and a candied hibiscus leaf atop a puff of crème fraîche sherbet.

Image source: Flickr member okano under Creative Commons