Rose water can be an intimidating ingredient thanks to its strong perfume. But used judiciously, it can be a wonderful addition to many drink recipes.
Its use in food and cosmetics can be traced to the Sasanian Empire of Persia. During the eleventh century, great thinkers of the Islamic Golden Age figured out how to mass produce rose water through a steam distillation process, which expanded its use across the Islamic world.
In medieval kitchens, rose water’s affinity for floral, mentholated cardamom was recognized, and the two highly aromatic flavoring agents have been culinary bedfellows every since. They can commonly be spotted rounding out the sweetness in Persian and North Indian pastries and desserts, where they are often joined by almonds, pistachios, citrus, and fruits like apricots.
In this recipe, pure rose water and cardamom cocktail bitters add subtle complexity to Fentiman’s Victorian Lemonade. You could use another brand of lemonade or make your own, but we are smitten with Fentiman’s lightly carbonated, ginger and juniper-infused take on the classic summertime beverage.
You can make this recipe without alcohol, but it plays nicely with gin or vodka. Feel free to spike your lemonade at your discretion.
Rose Water & Cardamom Lemonade
Yield: 1 serving
6 ounces Fentiman’s Victorian Lemonade
1 barspoon rose water
½ barspoon cardamom bitters
1/2 ounce gin or vodka, or to taste (optional; omit for a alcohol-free drink)
Sugar for rimming the glass (we used lavender sugar)
To rim your glass with sugar (optional): Pour a layer of sugar about ⅛ to ¼ inch deep onto a plate or flat surface. Next, run a cut lemon along the lip of a tall glass. Invert the glass and press the lip into the prepared sugar.
Fill your glass with ice. Add rose water and cardamom bitters. Add gin or vodka, if using.
Fill glass with lemonade and then give everything a quick stir, if desired. If using Fentiman’s, use a light hand so as not to destroy the carbonation.
A Note on Flower Ice Cubes
To make flower ice cubes like the ones pictured, you’ll need edible flowers (we ordered ours online) and one of these silicone ice cube molds. To make the ice relatively clear, boil distilled water for 2 to 3 minutes and let it come to room temperature. This eliminates a lot of the impurities and gases that contribute to clouding. While the water cools, place a layer of flowers face down in each cell of your ice cube tray. Once the water is cool, use it to fill each cell 1/4 of the way up. We found that using a spoon to transfer the water prevented the force of the water from disturbing our flower arrangements. Place the tray in the freezer until frozen solid. Continue layering each cell with flowers and water, freezing between each layer, until the cells are full.