“This intense longing for things transcendent… make me a votary of the Blue Flower” – C.S. Lewis
“I used to think I was a romantic, always looking for the Blue Flower” – John Le Carre ‘A Small Town In Germany’
“It’s one of Cole’s Blue Rose cases” – David Lynch ‘Fire Walk With Me’
A blue rose symbolizes spirituality and the metaphysical striving for the unreachable. It represents hope.
Nowhere is this more apparent than on eBay, where there are pages of “blue rose seeds” and “rainbow rose seeds” to buy, illustrated by photographs of obviously dyed or colourized blooms. This ruse would not fool a child, and yet they wouldn’t be there if a lot of people weren’t prepared to suspend disbelief and send away for magical seeds to grow impossible flowers. And this in 2016 when we have the interwebs for fact-checking!
This only shows that the search for the blue flower is still as evocative as it ever was.
While blue flowers do occur in nature, true blue roses have never been grown. Despite extensive genetic experimentation in Australia and Japan, and occasional dramatic press releases claiming success, available “blue” roses are variants of lavender, mauve and purple.
Due to their unavailability in nature, blue roses specifically have come to symbolize imagination and longing to achieve the impossible.
The search for the blue flower has been documented in early Germanic writings as the very essence of the Romantic movement, and was referenced more recently in George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice & Fire, where blue roses were used to demonstrate forbidden desire.
Substance B, the drug in Philip K. Dick’s “A Scanner Darkly” derives from a blue-flowered plant, as does the hallucinogenic nightmare powder released into Gotham City’s water supply in the film “Batman Begins”.
A 12th century Arabic text mentions the azure blue roses of the Orient, but these were achieved by the same method we can use to create blue roses now – blue dye introduced to the roots.
If you put blue food colouring into the water of a vase of white roses (allow the roses to dry out a little first so they will be “thirsty” and suck up the maximum amount of coloured water), you will usually end up with a speckled tu-tone effect which is quite pleasing.
As rococo as that is, especially if you are a fan of the 80’s art student classic ‘À rebours’ by Joris-Karl Huysmans, you may be best off using silk fake versions for a true blue rose, which are very popular at Japanese weddings.
…or let your search for the blue flower lead you to this frosty azure beverage.
1 shot vodka infused with blue pea flower tea
Dash of absinthe
Dash of lavender syrup
Hard dash of Violette liqueur
You can infuse vodka very easily with Blue-tee Butterfly Pea Flower Tea, available from Amazon online. This natural blue flower tea colours anything it is steeped in a bright dark blue very quickly. Just suspend a teabag in the bottle and leave for about 20 minutes.
I used Monin Lavender syrup, but you could make a simple syrup from lavender if you prefer.
Give the glass an absinthe rinse by pouring a few drops in and swirling it around until the inside is coated.
Shake vodka, violette and syrup in a chilled shaker, and serve over crushed ice, topped up with Cava and garnished with cubes of blue rose Turkish Delight.
8 leaves of gelatin
1 lb castor sugar
Blue food colour
Icing sugar to coat
Add leaves of gelatin to ½ pint of water in a saucepan (you can use powdered gelatin but that can go lumpy more easily), let it sit for 5 minutes, then heat gently until it dissolves completely.
Add the sugar and stir until it dissolves also. Simmer for 15 minutes, then remove from heat and add blue colour and 2 tablespoons of rosewater.
Wet a small cake tin or a couple of ice cube trays with water before pouring the mixture in, and allowing it to set overnight in the fridge. I used textured rubber ice cube trays.
Turn this out of the tin the next day, and chop into cubes if you made it in one piece, coating them with icing sugar as you do so. Dice as many as you need to add a heaping tablespoon to the top of each Blue Rose. It will eventually melt into the drink.
I used a glass with bluebirds for this because the search for the bluebird of happiness runs parallel to the search for the blue flower, as you can see in the work of Maurice Maeterlinck. And I realize that I have here possibly reached peak cocktail symbolism. And possibly peak cocktail pretension. But I am what I am.
Some cultures believe that the holder of a blue rose will have their dearest wish granted. Let’s find out if that’s true.
“It is not treasures that I care for” Heinrich said to himself, “but I long to see the blue flower. I cannot rid my thoughts of the idea, it haunts me.” – ‘Heinrich von Ofterdingen’– Novalis