The Story Behind The Sorrel

Christmas drinks are often associated with cream-based liqueurs and sugary cocktails. But in the Caribbean, the holiday flavors are best represented by a hibiscus flower named sorrel. Fragrant, sweet, and spiced, a punch of the same name is synonymous with any Caribbean Christmas celebration.

With its ruby hue and sweet scent, sorrel is the holiday drink that unites people as they surround a punch bowl filled with it. And for many table settings, it acts as a centerpiece as family members dole out ladlefuls to guests.

The drink’s origins, as well as its magnificent color and sweet-gingery taste, derive from the hibiscus flower that blossoms seasonally during the winter months in the Caribbean. And though it’s also popular in West Africa, by the name Zobo, the sorrel flower is most commonly grown throughout Jamaica. So much so that the drink is often referred to as Jamaican Sorrel outside of the country.

While traditional recipes are made from the fleshy parts of fresh sorrel flowers, this aromatic drink is just as delicious with dried blossoms, which can be found at African or Caribbean grocery stores.

Though the recipe is quite simple, requiring just a few ingredients, making this holiday drink is a labor of love. Most often, it’s made in batches and split into spiked and non-alcoholic versions. This way everyone gets to enjoy the festive flavors of the season with a drink in hand.


  • 2 ½ ounces dried Sorrel
  • 4-5 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 tablespoon allspice berries
  • ½ teaspoon cloves
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 2 ½ cups water
  • 750 milliliters overproof Jamaican rum


  1. Toast the cinnamon sticks, allspice berries, and cloves in a saucepan, for about 2 to 3 minutes.
  2. Add water and bring to a boil.
  3. Add sorrel.
  4. Stir in sugar, whisking briskly to dissolve, and reduce heat to a simmer.
  5. Simmer on low heat for 15 to 20 minutes, then remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature.
  6. Pour through a strainer over a bowl and remove any dried sediments from the mixture.
  7. Stir in rum.
  8. Decant contents into a glass bottle with a sealable closure.

Rate This Recipe:

(98 votes)

Yield: 4-6
Calories: 250
Updated: 2022-12-09

Sorrel Recipe Video