This drink was inspired by a juice common in West Africa, which has been popularized by the name Bissap in Senegal (where it is recognized as the national drink) and Gambia. Bissap is made from petals of a plant called hibiscus also known as sorrel. I firsts came in contact with Bissap while attending a holiday party hosted by a Gambian family a few years ago, it was “love at first sip” if there is such a thing. I loved the floral and perfumed scent of the petals and the tangy and herbal flavors of the juice. One thing I did not know was that the hibiscus plant exists in many parts of the world including the Caribbean and Australia. I was even more amazed when I recently discovered that the hibiscus plant actually does also exist in my home country of Zambia and it is called Lumanda whose leaves are eaten as a delectable vegetable dish. How I did not know this all my life remains a mystery!
Being the curious and adventurous cook I am, I have been experimenting recently in order to enjoy this drink even more. After a couple or experiments with various infusions of hot and cold drinks, I decided to venture into combining the drink with a tequila to make a margarita and thus the Bissarita™ was born! It retains the characteristics of the juice such as the floral scent and the tangy flavor and then the tequila and the liqueur both enhance these flavors and add a kick to it.
So you must be wondering where you can purchase the hibiscus or sorrel petals. Most cultural stores from the Caribbean and African carry them.
I divide the making of the Bissarita™ into two parts; first, the making of the concentrated juice and then the second part is the making of the margarita.
Regarding the juice, the 1 cup of the petals result in a lot of juice ( over 30 oz.) so for this recipe, I only end up using a 1/5 of the juice to make 2 glasses of the Bissarita™. I freeze the rest in packages of about 4 ounces each so all I have to do is put the frozen Bissap in the blended whenever I need to make another batch.
Preparation time: Bissap Juice: 20 min. & 2 1/5 hours freezing 9 minimum)
Margarita: 5 min
Servings: 12 glasses( if using all batches)
To make the concentrated Bissap Juice
1 cup dried Hibiscus (Sorrel) flowers
4 cups of boiling water
1 cup white sugar
1 oz. fresh squeezed lime juice (1 lime)
To turn the concentrated Bissap Juice into a margarita slush (for 2 glasses)
4 oz. semi frozen Bissap juice from batch made above
1 ½ oz. tequila
1 ½ oz. orange liqueur
1 ½ cups ice
To make the Bissap concentrated Juice
(1) Place petals in a bowl and pour boiling water. Stir for 5 minutes to allow the flowers to loosen and release the flavor.
(2) Let the leaves steep until temperature cools down (takes about 15 minutes) to a warm temperature. Run the juice through a sieve into another bowl to separate it from the petals.
(3) Stir sugar and lime into the juice.
(4) Place the juice in the freezer for 2 ½ hours or longer to freeze
To turn the juice into a margarita slush
(5) Rim the glass with some lime using the squeezed lime and frost it with salt.
(6) Place tequila, liqueur, Bissap concentrate and ice in the blender and blend for 30 sec. or until smooth.
(7) Pour into glass and garnish with a slice of lime.
Serve and enjoy the Bissarita!