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.”