The Secret Ingredient to Valentine's Day Success

Julia Millay Walsh

The romantic holiday of all is approaching, so we turn our attention to one of our favourite ingredients: rosewater. The floral water is commonly used in cosmetics for its subtle scent and astringent properties, but it also makes a delicious addition to cocktails and desserts. That said, it should be used in very small doses: just a bar spoon full will give it a distinct floral character, while greater quantities can evoke the more saccharine flavour of decorative soaps (not so appetizing). Read on below to learn how to make your own rosewater, as well as a few of our favourite rosewater cocktail and dessert recipes.



? Fresh roses (any type will do, so long as they're pesticide-free) ? A large lidded pot ? Distilled water ? Ice (optional) ? Plastic bags (optional)

There are two primary ways to make rosewater with fresh rose petals. Both begin the same way.

1. Pluck the petals from fresh roses. 2. Rinse them in cool water to wash off any potential chemicals. 3. Place your petals in the bottom of a large pot and cover them, just barely, with distilled water. 4. Cover your pot, put your burner on low-medium, and let them simmer until they have lost their colour.

For the easier approach:

5. Strain the liquid into a jar and let it cool. And you're finished!

For the more complicated approach: You're actually going to be making what's called a "hydrosol," the result of steam distillation.

5. Place a heat-safe bowl on top of the petals, preferably a heat-resistant glass bowl that floats (and won't sink below the water level). If you don't have one, use something else heat-resistant to prop your bowl up above the water level. 6. Invert your lid and cover the pot with it. 7. Place two plastic baggies full of ice on top of the inverted lid and allow the petals to gently simmer until the water is gone. As they simmer, steam will collect on the lid and drop into the bowl, collecting your pure rose water. 8. Carefully pour your pure rose water into a jar and seal it. You're finished!



A gloriously fragrant cake scented with rosewater and cardamom, topped with butter and honey creamed, and garnished with chopped roasted pistachios.


A dreamy, fruity, and slightly floral ice cream that melts in your mouth.


Not too sweet, big, or heavy, this delectable cheesecake is fragrant, smooth, and delicate, made with French cookies, Biscuits Rose de Reims.



Like a boozy pink lemonade,  this gin- or vodka-based cocktail is scented with rosewater, lemon juice, and rhubarb syrup and dusted with beet powder for earthy drama.


A combination of two classic cocktails, the Clover Club and the Ramos Fizz, this gin-based cocktail is beautifully light and effervescent -- not to mention festively pink.


In this flavorful sparkler, a timeless champagne cocktail gets a wintry herbal update thanks to two unusual ingredients.

For more Valentine's Day gift ideas and some amazing giveaways, visit our Valentine's Day headquarters! Photographs: Free People, The Hungry Australian, Taste Sheriff, Design*Sponge, Loving Cup, Honestly Yum, Gingersnaps -- By Julia Millay Walsh

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