A Lifestyle Blog by Mwahaki King


Wednesday 21 December 2016

Sorrel - A Traditional Jamaican Christmas Drink

As some of you know, I grew up in England until I was about ten years old before moving to my mother's native Jamaica. My first Christmas in JA was a bit of an adjustment due to the heat, but one thing that helped to ease the transition was this splendid Christmas drink called "Sorrel". The beverage is made from the sepals of the sorrel plant and the earliest references to the plant in Jamaica can be traced to the late 1600s and the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade. 

The vibrant, rich red of the sorrel petals, along with a generous helping of sugar and rum combine to make a flavourful and refreshing Christmas treat. This year, my mum is coming to visit me in Boston and no Jamaican Christmas is complete without a glass or two (or twenty) of sorrel. So, I figured I'd better get a move on! The recipe I'm using is one that was passed down from my grandma to my mum and now to me; and it's absolutely delicious!

To make your own, you'll need the following ingredients:

13 cups of water

1/3 cup of crushed root ginger

a handful of cloves

a handful of whole Jamaican All Spice (a.k.a pimento)

4 cinnamon sticks

3 - 4 cups of picked sorrel

1/2 cup of Overproof White Rum (I use the traditional Wray & Nephew)

Granulated Sugar - sweeten to taste

Bring a large pot of water, approximately 13 cups, to a boil. Add ginger, cloves, all spice and cinnamon sticks. Simmer for another 5 minutes. Add sorrel, cover and immediately remove from heat. Let it sit undisturbed, for 24 hours.

After 24 hours, strain the sorrel sepals and spices from the liquid, and sweeten the liquid to taste. Then stir in rum. Store the sorrel drink in bottles with a tight, secure lid, such as the ones below: 

Serve cold, ice is optional. In Jamaica, it can be used as both the perfect drink to offer friends who popped by, or as the primary beverage for the family during Christmas dinner. [Fun Fact: Dropping a few grains of rice into the bottles before adding the sorrel drink can speed up the fermentation process. Some families even tuck away a few bottles for years and allow it to ferment into wine.]

So, how about you? Do you celebrate Christmas? If so, let me know about some of your favourite traditions. Regardless of what you're doing this holiday season or what you celebrate, I hope that you have a wonderful time full of joy, laughter and love.

Happy Holidays, from mine to yours!
- M. King xxx


  1. Thanks for these great and very helpful information about sorrel traditional jamaican. There's no Christmas in Jamaica without sorrel, a drink that is infused with ginger, sweetened with sugar and spiked with white overproof rum. It is as ubiquitous at Christmas time as rum cake, curried goat, and rice with pigeon peace. sparkling drink

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