Roses have enchanted humanity for centuries. They’re voluptuous, sweet, and intoxicating, with petals as fragrant and soft as the curve of a lover’s wrist. They’re a metaphor for life itself – the buds unfurling into audacious and flamboyant beauty, the thorns eager to draw blood at the first unassuming touch.
Cleopatra loved roses. It is said that her vast estates were carpeted with petals, and that servants and royalty alike walked barefoot upon them, anklets chiming. When Aphrodite emerged from the ocean, dripping and glorious, the seafoam that slid down her divine breasts bloomed into roses of the purest white. Clay tablets from the ancient temples of Ur detail a delivery of 30,000 jars of rosewater to the Sultan of Baghdad’s harem. Roses are tokens of love and beauty, the most iconic of les fleurs, the goddesses of greenery. They’re Love Potion No. 1.
St. Valentine’s Day, is, of course, thundering down the road towards us, chariots overflowing with roses. You’ll find them for sale everywhere from fine florists to farmer’s markets, sidewalk vendors to shopping malls. Now, I love fresh flowers, and have a doting husband that loves bringing me armfuls of them. If I had my way, I’d channel Cleopatra, and shuffle through a sea of petals to make my morning coffee. You can imagine how our apartment looks in February. But roses are far more than just pretty, and my delight in them is more than just aesthetic.
Locked inside those velvety petals is a powerful magic – one that will make your hair lustrous, your skin dewy and fresh, and your Friday evening cocktail aromatic and lovely. You don’t have to doom your St. Valentine’s Day roses to the bin once you’ve kept them for a few days – you can brew rosewater.
Rosewater is a beautiful moisturizer, toner, and conditioner, wherever you apply it. Your body loves roses, and roses love your body right back. Pour rosewater into your bath for the soft and radiant skin of Cleopatra, palm it through your hair after your shower for the shining tresses of Aphrodite. Add rosewater to your gin + tonic, to your ice water with lemon, to your vinaigrette. It lends an intriguing and playful touch to pastries and sweets, and has a rich history in global cuisine.
Use the freshest roses you can find, in any natural colour (no rainbow-dyed ones here, my loves).
What you’ll need:
1 tsp vodka
(It’s really that simple.)
1. Pluck the petals from your roses, and place them in a colander. Rinse the roses thoroughly in cool water.
2. Transfer your petals to a lidded pot, and add enough cool water to cover.
3. Add 1 teaspoon of vodka, which will help preserve your rosewater.
4. Warm this mixture over low heat for 20-30 minutes, taking care to never let the water simmer or boil. Keep the lid on the pot to prevent the steam, full of essential oils, from escaping.
5. Once the petals have lost a significant amount of their colour to the water, take the pot off the heat and let cool.
6. Strain the mixture through the colander to separate the petals from the rosewater.
7. Use your elixir within 7 days in baths, on your skin, in your hair, in your cocktails, and of course, in your love potions.