Ever sit at a bar and think, “Man, this cocktail is delicious, but it’s just one color. I wish it would change colors magically while I drink it.”
Yeah, us too.
There is a way to make this happen and bartenders around the country are experimenting with a secret ingredient called Butterfly Pea Flower. This deep-blue tincture can be ordered online and has a barely perceptible sweetness. When you mix it with lemon juice, it goes from that deep blue to purple and finishes a magenta pink hue.
The first person working with Butterfly Pea Flower that we discovered was Bartender Megan Deschaine of 492 in Charleston, South Carolina. She’s had a killer cocktail called The Disco Sour on her menu since back in 2015.
Starbucks just released a Butterfly Pea Flower Lemonade this winter. You’ll find cocktails here and there stateside with it, and you could always jet off to Bangkok. They serve Butterfly Pea Flower drinks nearly everywhere, and this tincture is in the welcome drink at the Sofitel So hotel.
“The butterfly pea flower is mostly indigenous to Thailand, but has been known to grow in other parts of Asia, Africa, Australia, and America,” says Deschaine, who uses a highly concentrated extract under the label B’Lure sold by the Wild Hibiscus Flower Co.
“The extract itself has a very mild flavor, that does little to impact the profile of the cocktail. It is especially fun to incorporate into cocktail creation, because of its unique reaction to pH change. Exposing it to acids – in this case lemon juice – causes a color transformation.”
To create the drink’s color-altering “disco” ice, she mixes the butterfly pea extract into water, then freezes cubes. The drink is a shaken mixture of Pisco, fresh lemon juice and Velvet Falernum, brought to guests in a single-portion carafe. The ice cubes and a garnish of strawberries dusted in gold flake come on the side, and each guest gets to build his or her cocktail.
“The initial reaction is instantaneous,” laughs Deschaine, “Over the course of 5 minutes or so, the cocktail gradually changes from a pastel pink to a brilliant deep purple.
Deschaine admits tinkering with Butterfly Pea Flower extract is not an exact science, and it is difficult to measure exactly how many shades of color your cocktail will render if you want to try making this at home. Playing with Pea Flower sounds like an excellent use of your weekend, if you ask us.
1.5 oz. Pisco
0.75 oz. Velvet Falernum
0.5 oz. simple syrup
1 oz. lemon juice
Shake all ingredients, double strain into carafe. Pour over butterfly pea flower cubes* and enjoy!
*The cubes are made in 1×1 silicon ice trays with a solution of 1 oz. flower extract to 1 quart of water