Cool Off with a Pitcher of This Spiced Red Sorrel Drink

Red drinks and foods have a special connection with Juneteenth

Photo: Lew Robertson / Getty Images

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Red drinks and foods have long held an association with celebrations of Juneteenth. One explanation for the tradition holds that red drinks, cakes, and sauces symbolize the blood of the enslaved. Another connects the foods to the heritage of the Africans brought to Texas from areas that are now Nigeria, Ghana, Togo, Benin, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

“After slavery enslaved people began to recall and re-construct their experience through the celebration of Juneteenth. The practice of eating red foods — red cake, barbecue, punch, and fruit – may owe its existence to the enslaved Yoruba and Kongo brought to Texas in the 19th century. For both of these cultures the color red is the embodiment of spiritual power and transformation,” writes food historian Michael Twitty on Afroculinaria.

The impressive ruby color of this spiced red sorrel drink looks beautiful set out alongside any cookout buffet, but it pleases the palette as well as the eye. Rather than powder-based fruit punch flavoring, this DIY cooler uses dried sorrel or hibiscus flowers, along with cinnamon, clove, allspice, and fresh ginger. If you can’t get ahold of sorrel or hibiscus, try steeping some Celestial Seasonings Red Zinger tea, which gets its red zing from hibiscus and makes a solid substitute for the flowers.

More Related Recipes to Try Next: 
Tropical Hibiscus Cooler
Lemon Hibiscus Iced Tea
Blackberry-Hibiscus Sorbet

Spiced Red Sorrel Drink



Sorrel drink

  • 3 cups dried sorrel or red hibiscus flowers, or 5 Red Zinger tea bags
  • 1 4-inch cinnamon stick
  • 10 whole cloves
  • 1/4 tsp. crushed allspice
  • 2 3-inch pieces peeled fresh ginger

Simple syrup

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water


1. To make Sorrel Drink: Bring all ingredients and 4 cups water to a boil in saucepan. Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer 10 minutes. Cool, strain, and chill.

2. To make Simple Syrup: Bring sugar and water to a boil in small saucepan. Stir to dissolve sugar, and simmer 1 minute. Cool.

3. Pour Sorrel Drink over ice. Serve with pitcher of simple syrup for guests to sweeten drinks to taste.

Nutrition Information

  • Calories 33
  • Carbohydrate Content 8 g
  • Cholesterol Content 0 mg
  • Fat Content 0 g
  • Fiber Content 0 g
  • Protein Content 0 g
  • Saturated Fat Content 0 g
  • Sodium Content 0 mg
  • Sugar Content 8 g