Meet your new go-to holiday cocktail, the Zo-Bubbly


Published: December 12, 2018

holiday cocktail

A holiday cocktail has two main deliverables: it has to look the part and taste the part. The components have to play well with the themes of the holiday season, otherwise you’ll miss a key opportunity to add a bit of festive cheer.

If you’re spending the holidays in a warm country, like I am, the prospect of a champagne cocktail will appeal to you as a cooling respite from the dry harmattan heat. If you’re holidaying from a wintery location, then the sultry spices of this drink will convey just the right note of warmth and earthiness. In both places, the deep, exotic crimson of steeped hibiscus leaves holds the promise of a beautiful and festive drink.

I’m particularly excited to share this holiday cocktail because hibiscus leaves, also known as zobo, sorrel, sobolo, roselle or bissap, depending on where you come from, cut a familiar figure across Africa and the Caribbean. They are brewed as tea and drank hot, or enjoyed cold as a refreshment.

Either way, these zobo leaves pack an antioxidant punch, and bring to this cocktail all the goodness they’re known for. Be mindful not to boil the leaves aggressively, as this destroys some of the wonderful aspects of its flavour and nutrition. A gentle simmer is all that is required.


The quantity of leaves in this recipe can traditionally be used to infuse a much larger volume of water, however I’ve kept the ratios as they are to create a thick, syrup that will eventually be diluted with champagne.

Given that this is the holiday season, it’s very likely that you’ll be catering for a party that spans different age groups. For younger children, you can dilute the zobo syrup with water and for older kids, you can dilute with soda water. This means that everyone gets an age appropriate cocktail!

Speaking of syrup, the addition of sugar or sweeteners is absolutely optional. The orange juice in this recipe works very well to round out the natural tartness of the zobo. If you prefer your cocktails sweet, you can add more sugar to really get this syrupy. This can be a good idea if your champagne is a dry brut and you want to add a hint of sweetness to your cocktail.

RELATED CONTENT: Zobo drink for heart health

If you prefer your bubbly extra dry, want to inject flavour without sweetness, or are avoiding sugar for health or nutritional reasons, then you can skip the sweeteners altogether, or use one approved by your nutritionist for your eating plan.

Either way, this recipe can be whipped up in minutes and lasts weeks in the fridge. Anyone who pops into my home this holiday season will be served the Zo-Bubbly with a flourish!



1/4 cup zobo / dried hibiscus leaves

2 cups water

1 strip orange peel

1/2 orange (juice only)

1/4 cup sugar or honey (optional)

1/2 cinnamon stick

1 tsp grated ginger (optional)

1 bottle dry sparkling white wine (brut champagne, prosecco, cava or MCC)



Place all the ingredients except the champagne into a small pot and bring to a gentle simmer. Allow to simmer for 5 minutes and then remove from heat. Set aside to cool. This makes the zobo syrup.

Strain the syrup through a sieve or muslin cloth and store in a glass bottle in the fridge to chill.

To make the cocktail, pour a splash of the zobo syrup into a champagne glass and top with very cold champagne.

Garnish with berries or any other fruit, and serve immediately!

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About Minjiba Cookey

Minjiba is a Nigerian food blogger, TV cook, food writer, photographer, and content creator. She loves to take ingredients from her African heritage and transform them into globally appealing fusion dishes. Her ethos is fun, easy, healthy, smart comfort food. Her cooking show, ‘Minjiba Entertains’ is currently showing on The Africa Channel, a US cable TV network available in the US and the Caribbean. It is also available globally on the brand new VOD platform, Demand Africa. She posts weekly recipes to her website and daily food inspo on her instagram page @minjibacookey.

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