Jamaica agua fresca is one of the most popular – and most delicious – drinks that you’re likely to find at a Mexican restaurant. The beverage is made using dried red hibiscus flowers – jamaica, in Spanish – that are cooked with water and sugar to extract their flavor. In addition to the agua fresca, many of my favorite Mexican restaurants offer jamaica margaritas, made with a hibiscus syrup. Instead of making the syrup, I opted to make Jamaica-Infused Tequila as a base for some festive tequila cocktails (stay tuned).
Jamaica flowers, which are sold dried and very inexpensively at Mexican and other Latin American markets, don’t really need to be heated to draw out their flavor or color because they are incredibly potent. All you need to draw out their flavor is a little patience – and, in this case, a bottle of tequila. Combine the dried flowers and the tequila in a large jar and allow them to steep for 2-3 hours. The color will start to come out of the flowers very quickly, turning the tequila from a clear or golden color to a deep red one. Once the infusion is complete, strain out the flowers and re-bottle the tequila.
The hibiscus-infused tequila has a floral, tart flavor to it. Despite its color, it is not sweet on its own, though it does have a unique sweetness that comes out when sugar (or agave) is added to it in a drink. It can be used in any recipe that calls for tequila, adding its intense color and that unique floral, red berry note. I prefer to use a blanco (white) tequila or reposado (gold) tequilo, though you can use an anjeo tequila, which is aged longer and has a both a darker color and more intense flavor, but will still infuse well with the flowers.
1 750 ml bottle tequila
50 grams dried hibiscus flowers (approx 1 1/2 cups)
In a large container, combine tequila and dried hibiscus flowers. Allow flowers to steep for 3 hours, then strain out the flowers and re-bottle the tequila. Use the tequila as a substitute for tequila in any recipe. Since the jamaica flowers are slightly tart, you may need to increase the sugar in given recipe slightly.
Makes approx 750-mls.