Enliven Your Cocktails With This Transforming Flower

Making a cocktail can feel like a daunting endeavor. Some recipes require unusual ingredients; others mean learning a new skill. Some cocktail techniques, like fat washing, might sound a little out there, even though they're not exceedingly difficult. And there are classic cocktails like the margarita and the old fashioned that are worth mastering if you're looking to bolster your mixology basics.

In many cases, we order or make cocktails based on our preferred spirit or based on our mood. Some days call for a frivolous frozen pina colada, while others beg for a boozy whiskey sour. And every so often, you encounter a single ingredient that is so fascinating that you can't help but dive in and explore the cocktail possibilities. There's one beguiling ingredient that delivers everything you could possibly want as a cocktail game-changer: a provocative name, a brilliant color, a subtle, versatile flavor, and — best of all — a surprise twist.

For color-changing cocktails, use the butterfly pea flower

CBC explains that the butterfly pea flower is produced by the Clitoria ternatea vine. The flowers, according to Artful Tea, are commonly grown in Southeast Asia, and they're used to brew a tea that's the most brilliant blue you've ever seen in a glass. But why does the New York Times call butterfly pea flower a "mood-ring ingredient?" That bright blue color is only part of the flower's appeal. When you add an acidic ingredient like lemon juice to the butterfly pea flower tea, the blue color transforms to violet, just like magic.

You can buy butterfly pea flowers in several forms — the dried flowers themselves, which can be brewed to make tea, and you can also purchase butterfly pea flower powder and extract. Whatever form of the flower you find, the trick to using it in the cocktail is to let the acidic ingredient slowly marry with the blue tea, giving you a gradual color change that's the magical mood ring experience. Techniques like freezing butterfly pea flower extract and letting the cubes melt and change the drink's color or trapping the citrus component under a seal of liquid nitrogen are two of the crafty ways bartenders turn the butterfly pea flower into cocktail performance art. Perhaps we should add the butterfly pea flower to our list of edible flowers worth trying.