It feels like the long wait is over and the warmth has finally arrived! I've been doing fam brunches for the past couple weeks - inviting friends to come by when they can on a Sunday, cooking up a storm, and letting the day linger as we all eat and chat and have a few cocktails. One of my favorite things to do is make a huge pitcher of (unsweetened) hibiscus tea ahead of time; it's the perfect mixer. I love combining it with freshly squeezed juice from the market or from whatever I have on hand for an arnold palmer of sorts. With a great, infused simple syrup (ginger, mint, rose, clove), I have endless variations for both mocktails and cocktails.
For this cocktail, I keep it super simple - muddling together mint, fresh blueberries, and lemon. Honey sweetens it up a bit, and, of course, the hibiscus tea adds tartness. The smash was created as a simpler version of the mint julep - it only requires a bit of muddling rather than making a mint simple syrup or extract. It was originally made with whiskey, but there are tons of versions with vodka, rum and gin. For this one I flip flop between using rum and vodka (I can't decide which I like better!), so pick your own poison and enjoy!
Yields one cocktail
6 or 7 mint leaves
8 or 9 blueberries, divided
2 lemon slices
2 teaspoons honey
4 ounces unsweetened, hibiscus tea*
2 ounces vodka or rum
In a cocktail shaker, muddle together the mint leaves with the 4 or 5 blueberries and the lemon slices to release the juices and oils. Add the honey, hibiscus tea, and spirit and shake well to combine.
Transfer to a rocks glass filled halfway with ice and garnish with the remaining blueberries and a mint sprig.
*For loose hibiscus tea, my ratio is 1 cup dried hibiscus leaves per 10 cups water. I generally let mine sit overnight before straining,