Rose petals are only of use to mixologists if they come from strongly perfumed roses. Look for hybrid teas or heirloom damask roses. Roses generally require full sun, rich soil, regular water, and a well-rounded organic fertilizer. To get the most blooms, you will need to dead-head the plants and prune them once a year. Don’t buy into the idea that they require harsh chemicals to control pests and diseases, however–diseased leaves can simply be cut off and thrown away, and your local garden center or Master Gardener program can help you figure out organic pest control strategies that work in your climate.
And if you’re after rose hips, the red and orange fruits left behind after the flowers have bloomed? They’re high in vitamin C, used in teas, and could be used in a cordial. If you’re looking for a rose with great hips, check out these rugosa roses.
If you have a highly fragrant rose—‘Mister Lincoln’ or some such thing—the petals should go straight into a mason jar and have vodka or Everclear poured over them. Some people add a vanilla bean, but I’m not a fan of that combination. Cover it well and let it sit for a few days–but taste it daily. The minute it tastes wonderful, strain it. These fresh floral infusions get nasty if they’re left too long. Mix it with simple syrup to taste, and you’ve got a homemade rose liqueur. Oh, and there is a rose liqueur I’m dying to try–it’s blended with apples! Check out Crispin’s Rose Liqueur here.