Flower waters have had a place in the kitchen for centuries. Originally thought to have gained popularity for use in perfuming linens (and stinky bodies) as far back as the middle ages, flower water is exactly as the name states - water that has taken on the fragrance (and flavors) of flowers.
Most essential oils from plants are captured with steam distillation. Many of the aromatics are captured by the steam, which when condensed, becomes flower water. Besides containing small amounts of the essential oil, it also contains many of the water-soluble components of the living plant. Ancient Egyptians, Romans and Greeks used these waters for healing properties and, over time, they made their way into foods and drinks.
The most common flower waters are orange flower water, rose water, jasmine flower water, hibiscus water and lavender water. Each of these takes on the key elements of the flower itself - ranging from clean soapy flavors to complex pleasant bitterness. All of them are just begging to be added to a cocktail!
Orange flower water has a place in cocktail history. Best-known for it's use in the classic Ramos Gin Fizz, orange flower water gained some popularity during Prohibition. The fragrance was helpful in masking the odor of "bathtub gin." We thought it was time to bring these fragrant florals back to the forefront and make a few cocktails.
We easily found orange flower and rose water in our local Middle Eastern market. While also available online, we chose to make some lavender water by steeping organic (food grade) lavender blooms in hot water for a few minutes. The result is more of a flower tea than a flower water, but it was delicious nonetheless.
But what can you do with them? We encourage experimenting with them almost as you would with bitters - adding a few dashes to a cocktail or even rinsing your glass with them. To encourage your booze play, we've given a few guidelines below to get you started.
Rose Water - Try with tequila, gin, vodka, bourbon and whiskey
Orange Flower Water - Try with tequila, gin, rum, vodka, bourbon or whiskey
Lavender Water - Try with gin, vodka, mescal and scotch
Hibiscus Water - Try with tequila, rum, vodka and mescal
Jasmine Flower Water - Try with gin, bourbon, whiskey, pisco and vodka
Most importantly, remember we're just talking about booze - play around with it and see what you like. But we do suggest you start with the 'less is more' adage, as some of these can quickly overtake the palate with pungent aromas!
Tweet us, tag us on Instagram or contact us and let us know what success you've had experimenting with flower water.
Here's a few of the drinks we made with flower water: