Drink What You Desire: Flower Powers

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Welcome to Drink What You Desire, the monthly column where we explore the art and science of mixing drinks via the lens of human desire. I’m John, a fifteen-plus-year veteran of the craft cocktail scene and author of two cocktail books, Drink What You Want, and Saved by the Bellini

Mixology Goals

Throughout my career, I’ve always had a simple goal: to make mixology accessible to everyone. I’ve strived to simplify obscure arcana and give people permission to stand confident in their desires. Yes, there are a few objective measures that can define the success or failure of any given cocktail. 

But at the end of the day, it all comes down to personal preference. If the person drinking the drink does not enjoy it, the drink fails. 

That simple truism makes cocktails one of the best ways to explore our innate desires. Like so many forms of pleasure, they adhere to general sets of rules. Ultimately, softer and more individualized concerns such as memories, aesthetic preferences, aversions, and fears, rooted at the core of each person’s individuality, govern them.

The Juicy Pink Box Signature Cocktail

In honor of the launch of Juicy Pink Box, let’s explore our innate desire for independence. I invite you to try the Flower Powers cocktail.

I created the Flower Powers cocktail when I worked at the legendary neo-speakeasy PDT. It’s a bracing springtime drink that combines unexpected ingredients, bucks a few conventional rules of drink making, and manages to be simultaneously a spirit-forward drink and a highly refreshing tipple. 

It loosely resembles a completely scrambled and re-mixed whiskey sour — and for me, it’s a reminder of my early days behind the bar, when I was still developing my voice as a drink creator and learning how to express my unique point of view. 

The drink relies on fresh kumquats, which—in the United States at least—are available from January to June. This makes it ideal for celebrating the renewal that comes with warming temperatures. Green bell pepper is earthy, fruity, green, and slightly bitter. 

To counterbalance the notes from the kumquat and pepper, we use honey and a French elderflower liqueur, St. Germain, to provide sweetness while further amplifying the fresh, fruity, and floral aspects of this drink. 

Irish whiskey, crafted from melted barley and aged in oak, takes center stage as the primary spirit in Flower Powers. (Fun fact: the word “whiskey” comes from the Gaelic word for “water of life.”) There is a brand of Irish whiskey named Powers, and while it is the namesake for this drink, it’s not necessary to use Powers specifically. Typically, Irish whiskey is known for notes of malt, vanilla, tree fruits, and oak, so any one you choose should work fine here. 

One final note on technique. Since this drink contains solids—which are muddled into the liquid in order to release their juices—there will be a lot of floating bits in the drink if you do not carefully strain it. In addition to the standard cocktail strainer, bartenders use a small tea strainer for this purpose. If you don’t have one, anything you have on hand with a fine mesh, such as a small colander or gold coffee filter, will make sure this drink is smooth and chunk-free. 

Makes one drink.

Download Recipe

Ingredients

Kumquats

Green bell pepper

Irish whiskey

St. Germain
Elderflower liqueur

Honey syrup
(see below)

Fresh lemon juice

Quantity

2

1 1-inch piece,
free of seeds

1 ¾ ounces

¼ ounces

¼ ounces

¾ teaspoon

For garnish: edible orchid, floral wine charm, or other floral element as desired. 

Honey Syrup

Honey

Warm water 

½ cup

¼ cup

Combine water and honey in a sealable container and shake until combined. Store in the refrigerator for up to three weeks or in the freezer for up to three months. 

Directions

In a cocktail shaker, add kumquats, pepper, honey syrup, and lemon juice and muddle them together until crushed. Then, add the whiskey and St. Germain. Add ice and shake as hard as you can for 15 seconds. Using both a cocktail strainer and a fine tea strainer, strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish, if using. 

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