The Roselle {a tequila gin cocktail}

A cocktail for many occasions, a hailing to the coming spring, a non-traditional ode to the ghost of Saint Valentine, no matter the time or place, this delicious tequila gin cocktail offers a delicate balance between sweet, tart, floral, and refreshing. And yes, it has bell pepper in it.

The Roselle -a tequila gin cocktail

Like most cocktails, this intriguing little tart has many origins. I received a bottle of Bittermen’s Burlesque bitters over a year ago and had been having just a hell of a time getting it to shine in various cocktails and spirits. It’s a tantalizing melange of long pepper, acai, and hibiscus, supposedly great with gin, rum, or tequila. No such luck for me…

Until I stumbled upon a cocktail that uses both tequila and gin – the Lawn Dart featured in the PDT Cocktail Book. The Lawn Dart is a sexy cocktail. It muddles green bell pepper with gin, tequila, and green chartreuse. It’s grassy, spicy, vegetal-sweet. It tasted like green…in the best way possible. I wanted my own version to taste like red.

tequila, gin and hibiscus cocktail

The obvious first step would be to replace green bell pepper with the rich and sweet crisp of its red cousin. Then there’s the chartreuse. I had to find a suitable liqueur to replace this otherwise irreplaceable cocktail-elevator. The Burlesque bitters would provide the spice and seasoning in the way the chartreuse does, so I only needed to find a flavor I wanted to emphasize, something to give the drink a floral flourish. Then I found this wonderful stuff.

Fruitlab Hibiscus organic liqueur

The Hibiscus Organic Liqueur from Fruitlab is an investment, but worth it. It displays gorgeous balance and rich, deep flavor and doesn’t leave a sticky, syrupy mess of your palate. A truly versatile ingredient for any bar, the Fruitlab Hibiscus liqueur enlivens cocktails, spirits, and even sparkling wines! But I honestly feel it was meant for this cocktail, so I threw it in the mix. Finally, the last adjustment from the Lawn Dart that I had to make was concerning the citrus. Lime has a definite green taste that would just not fly here. Simple solution: lemon juice.

tequila gin cocktail with hibiscus liqueur

For the name, I went with something embarrassingly simple: Roselle, a common pseudonym for Hibiscus. The beauty of the word not only describes this stunning flower, but it captures the soft easiness of this cocktail and shoots up all sensory connections stemming from red flora.

tequila gin cocktail with red bell pepper

I write about this tequila gin cocktail as if I maniacally tinkered and tippled away in the kitchen until I got it right. In all honesty, I conceived all of this in pure speculation. I picked up a bottle of the Fruitlab Hibiscus, made the cocktail, and reeled from a rare but resounding success, a success to share. Stubborn in its vision but exotically satisfying, the Roselle.

The Roselle
This perplexing and surprisingly refreshing highball blends tequila, gin, hibiscus liqueur, and bell pepper for a tart and floral garden guzzler.
Recipe type: Cocktail (Highball)
Serves: 1
  • 1 ounce Reposado Tequila
  • 1 ounce London Dry Gin
  • ¾ ounce fresh-squeezed lemon juice
  • ½ ounce agave syrup
  • ½ ounce hibiscus liqueur (I used the lovely Fruitlab)
  • 1 5-inch slice red bell pepper
  • 2 dashes Bittermen's Burlesque Bitters
  • Soda water for topping up
  1. Muddle bell pepper in a cocktail shaker with agave syrup.
  2. Add tequila, gin, lemon juice, hibiscus liqueur, and bitters.
  3. Fill up ⅔ with ice.
  4. Shake vigorously until outside of shaker frosts (about 20 seconds).
  5. Double strain into a collins glass filled with ice.
  6. Top off with soda water.
  7. Stir gently and garnish with a lemon wheel.

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Nicholas Stanton

Bartender/Sales Associate at Craft Wine & Beer
I am strongly rooted in the Reno community. I believe in radically local ethics and the consumer support of micro communities. A large component of this is in the arts to express our realities, outdoor activities to encourage health and a deep care for the environment and food and drink culture to support local producers, farmers, and businesses. When I'm not geeking out and purveying new and exciting products at Craft Wine & Beer, I can be found cycling around town, reading literature of the Americas and dense philosophy and critical theory. Oh yeah, and keeping my two neurotic Border Collies entertained.
Filed under: Cocktail Recipes, Other Cocktail Recipes
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