Malay Rose

I grew up in Gamboa, a small town in the Republic of Panama, situated where the Chagres River meets the Canal.  There were various fruiting trees in the town, but my favorite was one whose fruit we called Rose Apple.  This wasn’t its correct name–the tree is Syzygium malaccense, and the proper common name is Malay Apple–but it persisted in Panama, and always seemed more accurate to me, given the glorious dark pink color of the fruit’s skin.  The flesh itself was white, light-textured and a bit spongy when properly ripe, and deliciously tart with rosy overtones.  There was always a beautiful time of anticipation as the tree prepared to fruit–after the flowers were polinated, the bright fuschia petals would fall and carpet the ground under the tree, a lovely sight.  It’s been too many years since I was home during their fruiting season, and I need to change that.  

My cocktail games have produced a drink that reminds me of this fruit, and I’ve called it the Malay Rose.  The color of the drink is a color some varieties of the fruit attain in nature, and balances floral and tart in a way I really enjoy.

The Malay Rose

2 oz Gin
0.25 oz Campari
0.25 oz Cointreau
0.25 oz lemon juice
0.25 oz rose syrup

Shake ingredients over ice, strain into a cocktail glass, and garnish with a lemon twist.  A variety of gins can work in this drink–Damrak is a favorite for this mix, as is Bombay (NOT Sapphire!).  Using a lighter, more floral gin like Hendrick’s or G’vine Fleuraison changes the nature of the cocktail, but can still be nice for the milder version that it is.  Rose Syrup can be found at Shemali’s, a fabulous Lebanese grocery in Foxhall Square down the hall from my place of employment, and at other Middle Eastern shops.   I hope you like it!

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