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Where to Find a Cocktail Made with Butterfly Pea Flowers

A handful of San Diego bars are stepping up their purple cocktail game


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Madison on Park's Purple Rain gets its purple hue from butterfly pea tea.

If you saw the cocktail and heard the ingredient’s name, it would make perfect sense: butterfly pee. But that otherworldly purple hue isn’t from some cleverly named new liqueur; the butterfly pea (P-E-A) is an actual flower, native to Southeast Asia. Dried indigo-blue butterfly peas have historically been used as food coloring, or combined with lemongrass to make a tea that’s believed to enhance memory and relieve stress.

Juniper & Ivy's Velvet Unicorn. | Photo: Madison Rosen

Butterfly pea tea is also an ingredient increasingly showing up in cocktails because it looks so cool and adds an earthy flavor. I first came across it at Kindred, where bar manager David Kinsey made a syrup from the tea and used it in the Ultraviolent Light. (At Halloween, it was also in Kindred’s rum-based Haunted Earth cocktail.) Unfortunately, the Ultraviolent Light dropped off the menu—“It just wasn't getting ordered, even with that ridiculously psychedelic color,” says restaurant owner Kory Stetina—which is a shame, because the twist on a classic fizz tasted as lovely as it looked. “But I am sure it's likely to end up back in something," Stetina says. "Its color-changing properties are pretty wild and fun.”

Right now, there are at least a couple of other spots serving butterfly pea cocktails: at Juniper & Ivy, bar manager Joe Fisketti uses the tea in The Velvet Unicorn. Made with gin and velvet falernum (a syrup used in tiki cocktails), it also includes Meyer lemon juice, which turns the tea into various shades of fuchsia and purple. And at Madison on Park, Danny Kuehner’s lavender-colored Purple Rain is made with Blinking Owl aquavit, Giffard peach liqueur, lemon, egg white, a simple syrup made with butterfly pea flowers, and a few drops of CBD oil, which is also believed to have calming properties. One dollar from every Purple Rain sold is donated to the Betty Ford Addiction Prevention Foundation.


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