Marisa Chafetz / Supercall

4 Floral Cocktails That Prove Flowers Are More Than Just Garnish


Here’s a non-controversial statement: Flowers are pretty. Beautiful blooms brighten up any room. They add a pop of color to a hairstyle, pull a suit together when pinned to a lapel, or complete a bride’s look when arranged into a showstopping bouquet. And, as any bartender will tell you (especially those of the tiki variety), flowers also give cocktails an elegant wow factor, whether they’re floated in a big batch punch, frozen into ice cubes or delicately floated in a coupe. But a few particularly in-the-know bartenders will also tell you that flowers not only look great in drinks, but taste great too.

According to these botanically leaning mixologists, you don’t need to see a flower to appreciate its presence. “I like the idea of pairing flowers with cocktails because it adds a sweetness without overpowering the spirit itself,” says Chelsea Boyer, general manager of Virtuous Pie in Portland, Oregon. “Many mixers can compete too strongly with the flavor of the spirit, where adding floral notes works more as a complement. Tiffany Bayless, lead bartender at International Smoke in San Francisco, agrees, remarking on how surprisingly versatile flowers like lavender, hibiscus and marigold can be. “You can manipulate them into a syrup or infusion to add fragrance or color,” she says. “When trying to use them in food, they tend to get overpowered by other flavors or ingredients in a dish. But using them in syrups or infusions with alcohol allows them to stand out and add a little extra something special to enhance any cocktail.”

Just in time for spring, here are four cocktails that celebrate flowers to the max.

Marisa Chafetz / Supercall
For this twist on a classic Vesper, Meghan Balser of Herb & Wood in San Diego, adds a dash of Japanese whisky and swaps out the now-extinct Kina Lillet for lavender-infused Cocchi Americano. “I love using fresh flowers in my cocktails,” she says. “They add a pop of color and femininity to the presentation and, when in the drink itself, an unexpected floral note that wakes up your palate.” Strong and spirit forward with a hint of lavender and a delicious, oaky depth from the bar spoon of whisky, this cold, crisp cocktail is a stiff drink that is perfect for springtime sipping. It’s stiff enough to beat back any chills, but fresh and floral enough to conjure up images of fields of flowers and blue skies.  

The Essentials

Gin Mare
You and Yours Vodka
Lavender Infused Cocchi Americano
Marisa Chafetz / Supercall
This tall, golden cocktail is a Bees Knees variation taken to extremes. Created by Jacob Racusin at The Snug in San Francisco, it combines marigold-infused vodka with honey, bee pollen, lemon juice and rose water. “The connection between bees, honey and flowers just seemed like a natural fit to me,” Racusin says. Marigold petals impart a subtle floral flavor to the vodka, as well as a glowing, yellow hue. Shaken and served over crushed ice with a garnish of marigold petals and a piece of honeycomb, this cocktail is the essence of flower power. Serve it at your next brunch or springtime dinner party and prepare for a standing ovation.

The Essentials

Marigold-Infused Vodka
Lemon Juice
Bee Pollen Honey
Marisa Chafetz / Supercall
You’ve never seen a rose cocktail like this before. Even though it’s pitch black (thanks to activated charcoal), this striking cocktail is unexpectedly floral. Created at the Portland, Oregon, outpost of Virtuous Pie, a mini-chain of “plant-based” pizza restaurants, the cocktail reflects the restaurant’s vegan values by using aquafaba (chickpea water) in place of egg whites to give the drink a gorgeous, foamy head and creamy texture. Rose flower water gives it a rich scent and mild sweetness, while locally made Aviation Gin adds notes of crisp juniper. The charcoal simple syrup brings everything together and gives the drink its shocking ebony hue. It also might have some health benefits. “Activated charcoal works as a health aid, teeth whitener and prevents hangovers,” says general manager Chelsea Boyer. So go ahead, have another.

The Essentials

rose water
Charcoal Simple Syrup
Aviation Gin
Marisa Chafetz / Supercall
This crowd-pleasing punch really will make everyone happy. Made with both tequila and vodka, along with spicy Ancho Reyes liqueur, lychee liqueur, fruity-floral hibiscus and tonic water, it appeals to pretty much everyone—except for folks who only drink straight whiskey, but even they’ll be convinced after a sip. Created by Tiffany Bayless, lead bartender at San Francisco’s International Smoke, the name of the punch not only alludes to the hit song from Bay Area hip hop duo Luniz, but also to the history and tradition of punch. “The word ‘punch’ comes from the Hindi word panc or panch, which means five,” Bayless says. “A true punch usually has five types of ingredients: alcohol, sweet, sour or citrus, spice, and water or ice.” It really makes you think about that song in a whole new way.

The Essentials

Hibiscus Infused Absolut Elyx vodka
Espolon Blanco Tequila
tonic water

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