Where: Rasika, 633 D St. NW
Bartender: Tena Jahangosha
Mystery Ingredient: Dried whole hibiscus flowers
Bartender Response: Jahangosha dropped a bunch of the flowers in boiling water with sugar to make a hibiscus simple syrup. “The color is going to be really pretty,” she said.
What We Got: A sweet, tart, deep pink cocktail made with mezcal. A perfect line of crushed hibiscus mixed with saffron salt hovered on the drink’s foamy surface. After some pondering, Jahangosha dubbed her creation “So-biscus”—half-sour, half-hibiscus.
How It Tasted: The drink may have been pink, but “girly” it wasn’t. A perfumey scent belied a sophisticated, not overly sweet taste, with the mezcal standing up to the hibiscus’ powerful flavor.
Improv Points (1 to 5): 4. Making a simple syrup to reconstitute the dried flowers? Easy enough. But the ruby hue and hibiscus and saffron salt garnish drifting on a layer of froth showed real artistry. The striking look deserves a double take, but I was ultimately seduced by the flavor trifecta of smoky, sour, and sweet.
2 ounces Del Maguey Chichicapa mezcal
1 ounce fresh squeezed lime juice
1 ounce hibiscus simple syrup*
Half an egg white
A couple dashes of Fee Brothers plum bitters
Crushed dried hibiscus
*To make the simple syrup, boil 1/4 cup hibiscus, cups sugar and ounces water until sugar dissolves. Strain flowers and allow to cool.
Combine mezcal, lime juice, hibiscus simple syrup, and egg white in a cocktail shaker. Shake, then add ice and shake hard for 30 seconds. Top with plum bitters and crushed hibiscus mixed with saffron salt.
Photo by Adele Chapin