kelly magyarics

washington, d.c.-based wine, spirits & lifestyle writer / wine educator

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Rose Scented Glasses

Cocktail recipes that include a few dashes of rose water keep blooming on the web and in cocktail books and magazine. Distilled from petals, rose water is a by-product of the production of rose oil that's used in perfume and cosmetics and for religious purposes throughout Europe and Asia. American and European bakers used rose water a lot in baking until the nineteenth century, when vanilla became more readily available.

Though I don't like my drinks to taste or smell too much like perfume, a whiff of heady floral aromatics adds a touch of the exotic. You can find rose water in some drugstores, but be sure it's meant for culinary purposes--I found culinary rose water in the Asian/Latino supermarket Lotte Plaza in Chantilly. The producer is Clic, from Lebanon, and a ten ounce bottles was a little over two bucks. It doesn't have any preservatives in it, so it's probably a good idea to keep it in the fridge. (That's not the bottle that's pictured here, but the label is similar).

On the last page of the June 2009 issue of The Tasting Panel, there is a recipe for a really tasty cocktail that contains rose water. Portland, Oregon bartender Evan Zimmermans's The Minor Threat also has refreshing cucumber gin and bitter orange Aperol. Very, very yummy:

The Minor Threat
Evan Zimmerman, Laurelhurst Market, Portland, Oregon
1 oz. cucumber-style gin (try Square One or Crop Organic. If you don't have cucumber gin you could muddle a few slices of cucumber before adding the other ingredients, though you will have to do a good job of straining out the solids unless you don't mind cucumber chunks)
1 oz. Aperol
1/2 oz. lemon juice
Dash of simple syrup
2 dashes of rose water
1 egg white
Peychaud's bitters, for garnish

Put all ingredients into a cocktail shaker and shake without ice for 20 seconds. Add ice and shake again. Strain into a cocktail glass and float a few drops of bitters on top of the froth.

Note: Unless you are using small eggs, I find that 1 egg white is usually enough for 2 cocktails. So if you double the recipe in the shaker you would probably just need 1 egg white.