One of the primary rules of celebrating Juneteenth is that you must eat and/or drink something red to honor the blood shed by enslaved Africans. Eating red food can come in many forms from red beans and rice, red velvet cake and fruit like watermelon, strawberries and raspberries. But you really need a red drink to make it official.
The first freed people celebrating “Jubilee” in Galveston created a hibiscus punch made from a combination of tea from the plant’s leaves and cane sugar or agave. It was already a staple in many of their diets as both food and medicine, but for celebratory reasons, hibiscus tea punch was the go-to. Aromatic and refreshing, it was a nod to both West African bissap and Caribbean sorrel. Hibiscus plants were to be found throughout Galveston and the enslaved people never needed permission to enjoy it.
As the years progressed and Jubilee evolved into Juneteenth in concert with the rest of Texas, the red drink evolved. Sarsaparilla and carbonated strawberry-flavored beverages were easier to purchase and more of a treat for younger people over the decades. However, hibiscus punch is reemerging as a favored Juneteenth drink either with or without alcohol.
And that leads us to this unique heritage blend of both history and libation.
Alongside many of the African enslaved were laborers of Mexican heritage. Early accounts of Jubilee and Juneteenth celebrations include the joint revelry of two very distinct cultures brought together under the unique circumstance of slavery.
Revel Avila’s Chipotle Hibiscus Margarita is a hat tip to heritage and history. Created by award-winning mixologist Zachariah Parks for Revel, this margarita can be served without the avila as a punch.
Chipotle Hibiscus Syrup
Chipotle Hibiscus Syrup: Make a 1:1 Simple Syrup with Evaporated Sugar Cane then stir in a handful of dried hibiscus flowers and half that amount of dried chipotle peppers. Refrigerate overnight then strain out the flowers and peppers.
1 oz Revel Blanco
1 oz fresh lime
¾ oz Chipotle Hibiscus Syrup
Garnish: Lime peel
*Build in tin, shake with ice, double strain into double old fashioned glass over a large cube.
Enjoy freedom, celebrate heritage and drink something red. Happy Juneteenth.