At the Bookstore Bar & Café in downtown Seattle, quirky ingredients are as abundant as the impressive collection of books that spans the walls. Green tea simple syrup, ginger-infused whisky, lychee liqueur and hibiscus syrup are a few standouts taking up residency behind the bar, where classic libations are crafted with a twist and notable newbies come to life.
Bartender Cheston Overman amps up a classic gin fizz with a touch of flora for a Hibiscus Gin Fizz that will whisk you from rocky Northwest shores to something a bit more barefoot friendly — much needed in this weather. With a juicy pink hue and a dusting of vibrant hibiscus flowers atop playful frothiness, this fizz is as beautiful as it sounds.
A California native — and no stranger to the beach for that matter — Overman has been bartending in Seattle for 20 years, utilizing both local and exotic ingredients to surprise the patrons at his bar top. “I got ahold of some dried hibiscus flowers and it went from there,” he explains on the Hibiscus Gin Fizz’s creation.
Overman uses Portland’s Aviation Gin in his recipe, as the botanicals (cardamom, French lavender, juniper and two kinds of orange peel among others) play especially well with the hibiscus flowers. Fresh lemon juice, characteristic of a classic gin fizz, brings out the citrus botanicals in the gin while also balancing the floral sweetness. Also true to a classic fizz, the egg white “lends a velvety texture to the drink,” Overman says.
To keep the experience locally rooted, the tenured bartender suggests pairing the finished cocktail with Bookstore Bar and Café’s seasonal seared salmon dish or the beet salad with salmon.
Hibiscus Gin Fizz
Makes 1 cocktail
1 ½ ounces Aviation gin
¾ ounce fresh lemon juice
½ ounce hibiscus syrup*
1 egg white
Soda water to top
Garnish: dried hibiscus flower
Dry shake all ingredients. Fill shaker with ice and shake again. Fill half of a Collins glass with ice then strain ingredients in glass. Top with soda water and garnish with dried hibiscus flower.
*To make the hibiscus syrup, bring 10 ounces of water to a simmer in a saucepan and add 2 ½ cups sugar, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Remove the saucepan from the heat and add 1 cup of dried hibiscus flowers, stirring to combine. Pour liquid into a non-reactive container and cover. Let stand at least 1 day, then strain and bottle.