The first time I brought a splash of Sorel up to my nose, all I could think of was Christmas: warm, jammy, a little spicy – the mere smell of this drink conjured up memories of my grandmother’s house in the wintertime.
The source of my warm-and-fuzzies is Jack from Brooklyn’s combination of organic grain spirit with hibiscus, cane sugar, dried ginger, cassia (cinnamon’s more assertive cousin), cloves, and nutmeg. His recipe is inspired by the Caribbean’s classic sorrel, a hibiscus tea with flavorings that vary greatly from island to island.
Yuletide nostalgia aside, however, I’ve since learned that Sorel reacts equally well to the stickier, sultrier months of the year. The highly flavorful, concentrated liqueur lends itself beautifully to very cold, very refreshing cocktails, preferably garnished with a spritz or slice of citrus.
Its versatility doesn’t end there, though. In addition to transitioning seamlessly from steaming mugs to icy glasses, Sorel makes a feisty popsicle – the ultimate summer indulgence.
The recipe below comes from Kimberly M. Wetherell, “baketender” and owner of Spirited – a new boozy bakery, dessert restaurant, and cocktail bar coming soon to Park Slope, Brooklyn. The popsicles it yields are low in alcohol but big on flavor. Dark fruit flavor plays the leading role here, supported by the sweetness of the caramelized honey and the spice of the Sorel. If you like your sweet treats less cloying, try using less caramelized honey. Personally, I love the tang of citrus dancing around with the fruit and spice of Sorel, so I added the juice of half a lime to my mixture.
Play around with the ingredients, pop them in the freezer, then hit the streets. No one will know you’re imbibing, and nothing pairs well with a popsicle like a little stroll.
Photo and recipes courtesy of Kimberly M. Wetherell, “baketender” and owner of Spirited.
BLACKBERRY PLUM SOREL-SICLES
(makes 6 2.5-oz popsicles or 2 ice cube trays)
1. Taking a sharp vegetable peeler, remove the skin from the plums. With a small paring knife, carve away as much flesh as you can from the pit.
2. Place the blackberries, plum flesh, and honey into a food processor or blender and pulse gently until the fruit is thick and blended together and has the consistency of a thick jam. Transfer to a bowl.
3. Add the Sorel and Prosecco to the fruit mixture and stir until everything is fully incorporated.
4. Pour into popsicle molds** and insert sticks.
5. Freeze for at least 8 hours, preferably overnight.
6. To remove (which is a bit tricky, considering alcohol will not freeze to a completely solid state in a home freezer), place the pop under a stream of warm running water for 15-20 seconds. Gently nudge the popsicle out of the mold.
7. Enjoy the heck out of that bad boy. You deserve it.
*Caramelizing honey adds a complexity that is unparalleled. If you have a few extra minutes, I highly recommend trying this simple recipe and keeping it on hand for absolutely everything. And if you don’t feel like the additional work, using your favorite honey is perfectly perfect.
**I prefer the sip-n-lick variety, especially with boozy popsicles, so that I waste nary a drop of precious liquid. But you could also pour this mixture into an ice cube tray, cover with plastic wrap and then poke toothpicks or wooden popsicle sticks through the plastic wrap (anyone remember “sunshine on a stick”?) for smaller pops.
450 g (1 lb.) honey
1 tablespoon water
½ teaspoon lemon juice
1. Mix together the honey, water, and lemon juice in a saucepan.
2. Heat over low heat, stirring with a rubber spatula until the mixture starts to simmer.
3. Once simmering, do not stir again, but let simmer another 2-3 minutes.
4. Once the honey is a bit darker and has a nutty aroma, remove from heat and pour into a clean bowl, bottle, or jar.
5. Allow to cool before sealing the jar and/or using.