As it's Valentine's Day today, I wanted to do something in celebration, but a bit different than the norm. You're sure to find lots of red, or pink or sparkling cocktails out there for the holiday, and I always enjoy being contrary. LOL. So, I decided a purple cocktail would be a fun alternative and with a dark, blended whisky to boot! Nothing light and girly here, kids!
A while back I got some Butterfly Pea Flower tea. You may have seen this stuff going around the interwebs as a popular new tea, or as an ingredient in cocktails lately. A friend of mine used it in a cocktail competition recently and it got me thinking of how I might use it to make an otherwise ordinary cocktail extraordinary. The tea is something you can find all over Southeast Asia, particularly in Thai cooking as a food coloring agent for sticky rice and in Thai and Vietnamese homes, where the tea is imbibed after a meal, as an aid to digestion.
Generally speaking, the easiest way to infuse something is to use it in a syrup. I don't often infuse things directly into my spirits if I've never worked with them before, simply because I don't know how it will effect the taste. So I like to test it out in a syrup first.
First, I made a sort of tea with the flowers by boiling them in water. Then I strained out the flowers and put some of the hot tea/water in an ice cube tray and froze it for use later. Then I added sugar to the hot liquid to create the syrup. It was a very deep blue color, which was so cool.
One of the interesting things about the color of this tea is that it will change when the PH level of the tea changes. For instance, when you add citrus to the tea, it turns a beautiful purple color. The more citrus you add, the deeper the purple color. I use the ice cubes I had made with the tea to add even more color to the cocktail. Sadly, I don't have any pictures of the ice cubes because I was worried they would stain everything they came in contact with if I wasn't careful.
In any case, I thought it would be fun to see what would happen with a basic whisky sour cocktail using this syrup, since there is not only citrus in it, but egg whites. Would the egg white froth turn purple too, or would it still remain white? For the most part, the egg whites stayed white, while the drink itself was a very deep purple/fuchsia color. It was so pretty, and it tasted fabulous.
Honestly, the Butterfly Pea Flowers didn't impart much taste at all to the syrup, which was good, because when I tried the tea itself, it had a bit of an earthy funk to it, much like a green tea does. That taste didn't come through at all in the cocktail, which I preferred. I used a darker, smoky blended Scotch for this drink because I liked how the color of it belies what's underneath. You see the purple and assume its a) going to be sweet, and b) probably fruity or "girly", which it certainly isn't. I think it turned out really beautiful and I'm excited to use the tea in more cocktails.
Happy Valentine's Day, All!
- 2 oz Blended Scotch Whisky (I used Cutty Sark Prohibition)
- 1 oz Lemon Juice
- 1/2 oz Butterfly Pea Flower Syrup*
- 1 Eggwhite
- Butterfly Pea Flower Tea Ice Cubes
Instructions: Combine all ingredients in a shaker and shake vigorously without ice for 1 minute. Add Butterfly Pea Flower ice cubes, shake for 15 seconds, and double strain into a glass. Top with a thistle or another interesting flower. Enjoy!
*Butterfly Pea Flower Syrup & Ice Cubes: Combine 2 tablespoons of Butterfly Pea Flower Tea and 1 1/2 cups of water in a sauce pan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and let simmer for 2 minutes. Strain out flowers. Add 1/2 cup water to an ice cube tray and freeze. Return the remaining cup of water to the sauce pan and add 1 cup of sugar. Bring to a boil until sugar is fully dissolved. Stir and remove from heat. When cooled, add to an airtight container for storage in the fridge for up to 1 month.