Skip to main content

How To Make a Hibiscus Tequila Sparkler, a Perfect Labor Day Cocktail

Big Shirley Cocktail on table.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Here we are, looking at the tail end of summer and toasting its final days with Labor Day cocktails and the like. This time of year calls for backyard grilling, drinks on rooftop bars, and one last camping trip or two. It also demands a drink with some of the timeliest flavors we can think of; tequila, hibiscus, and soda.

We reached out to our bartender friends for a sparkling cocktail fit for right now. Something fun, effervescent, and a joy to both make and drink. Chase Bracamontes is the lead bartender and partner at Chef’s Special Cocktail Bar in Chicago. The new bar mixes up a host of quality drinks, from classics to contemporary sippers. She offered a great recipe, below, for the Big Shirley — one that really harnesses the power of hibiscus. It’s the brainchild of Bracamontes and her bar manager, Julian Sanchez.

Why hibiscus? A variety of reasons, it turns out. One, you get a lot of color from this tropical flowering plant. Also, it’s a unique flavor, full of tart red fruit notes somewhat akin to cranberry. As such, it works great in many things, from cocktails and beers to tea and kombucha, even cooking sauces. It’s also just fun to say. But here, specifically, it turns grenadine into something else entirely, much less sweet and cloying.

Sure, there’s an easy way to make a hibiscus sparkler that’s essentially just the syrup of the flower and some sparkling wine. And while we love that spin on a mimosa, we believe you can do even better and make something a little more elevated. Enter, the tasty and playful Big Shirley. Bracamontes says the drink reminds her of Large Marge from Pee Wee’s Big Adventure. “It’s just good times and kid memories layered on top of each other,” she says. But there’s an older, sophisticated side to the drink as well.

“The difference is the grenadine is a little tart from the pomegranate and hibiscus and fresh with the orange peel,” she says. “The drink has definitely evolved into a flavor for adults.”

Big Shirley

Essentially a Shirley Temple for adults, this drink utilizes a homemade batch of grenadine made of citrus and whole hibiscus flower. The end result is an electric drink perfect for late summer and early fall. The color says the leaves will change soon but the flavors remind that the sun is still very much out and shining. Should you feel like trying a new spirit as the base, Bracamontes suggests gin in lieu of tequila.

  • 1.5 oz tequila
  • .25 oz hibiscus grenadine*
  • Sprite
  • lime wedge and cherry for garnish
*Hibiscus Grenadine: Combine 4 ounces pomegranate juice, 4 ounces black cherry juice, 2 cups of sugar, 2 ounces of hibiscus flowers, and the peel of 1 orange in a pot. Put on high heat and stir as liquid boils. Once the sugar has dissolved, take off heat and cool and strain.
Method: Mix tequila and grenadine, shake, and pour into a glass. Top with Sprite and garnish with lime wedge and cherry.

Editors' Recommendations

Mark Stock
Mark Stock is a writer from Portland, Oregon. He fell into wine during the Recession and has been fixated on the stuff since…
How to make creamy, crispy chicken fried steak – a recipe for the home chef
This is so easy, you may never order it again and save it for dinner at home
Homemade chicken fried steak dinner

Crispy and covered in gravy, chicken fried steak is a delicious and filling Southern delicacy. Essentially a thin beef steak that's battered and fried, a piece of chicken fried steak resembles a large fried chicken cutlet. In the South, chicken fried steak is a beloved recipe, and common at restaurants and home kitchens.

Country fried steak vs. chicken fried steak
Many historians trace the origins of chicken fried steak to German immigrants in the 19th century. When these immigrants came to the South, they brought with them Wienerschnitzel, a breaded pork or veal cutlet pan-fried in butter. The phrase "chicken fried steak" appeared as early as 1914 in ads for the Phelp's Dining Room and Cafeteria in the Colorado Springs Gazette.

Read more
How to make a delicious Philly roast pork sandwich
For the best of Philly, try this roast pork sandwich recipe
philly roast pork sandwich recipe guide high street

DiNic's roast pork. Image used with permission by copyright holder

The cheesesteak might be Philadelphia's most famous culinary item, but for many natives, there's another sandwich considered to be the true taste of Philadelphia — the roast pork sandwich. Made from slow-roasted pork, sharp provolone, and sautéed broccoli rabe or spinach, the roast pork sandwich is a beloved culinary staple throughout the city.
What makes a Philly roast pork sandwich special?
The Philly style of roast pork sandwich is believed to have originated from the Italian American community in South Philly, either from Italian porchetta or from leftover weekend pork roasts. Whatever the origin, the sandwich has remained popular and relatively unchanged for decades.

Read more
The best hot cocktails to make this winter
The best hot cocktail recipes
Dante's Hot Buttered Rum cocktail.

Now that the cold is forcing us to stay indoors, nothing is more satisfying than wearing warm clothing and taking a sip from a piping hot cocktail by the fireplace. It's one thing to feel the heat from the mug radiate through your hands into the rest of your body, but then when you consider the shot or two of booze you've mixed in? That, friends, is a win-win combo.

The only thing left to do, then, is figure out what kind of hot cocktail to make. Whether you’re a self-proclaimed mixologist or someone who enjoys an occasional boozy drink after a hard day’s work, we’ve got you covered with the best hot cocktails that will satisfy every taste profile.

Read more