It seems a stretch when people describe cocktails as sublime or divine or heavenly. Like, can a drink taste so good it inspires awe? Well, the aptly named Heavenly Hibiscus, created by James Nguyen of Royale Brasserie Francaise, comes awfully close.
In fact, once I started sipping I had a hard time putting down the glass, so intoxicating is its combination of cognac, vanilla liqueur and apple juice. It’s strong and rich, with the heady scent of vanilla transformed into something drinkable. There are also hibiscus flowers in there — Nguyen makes his own cordial (see recipe, below) — and a splash of lemon juice for tartness. The drink is intended to demonstrate that cocktails made with cognac can be light, long and easy to drink. I may have asked him for a to-go cup (request denied).
- 1-1/3 oz Chateau Montifaud VS cognac
- 2/3 oz Giffard’s Vanille de Madagascar
- 1/2 oz Hibiscus Cordial*
- 1/2 oz fresh lemon juice
- 2 oz apple juice
- Garnish: 3 thin apple slices, skewered
Method: Combine ingredients in a cocktail shaker and shake with ice. Strain into a Collins glass filled with fresh ice and garnish with three thin apple slices artfully arranged on a skewer.
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 tbsp. hibiscus flowers from Silk Road Spice Merchant
Method: Combine sugar and water and heat until just simmering and sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and add hibiscus flowers. Let steep like a tea. When cool, strain out flowers and refrigerate cordial.
— Recipes courtesy James Nguyen, Royale Brasserie Française