This is the time of year when we may find ourselves feeling overextended or rundown. Our to-do lists, obligations, and parties may prove a bit overwhelming. Family or financial pressures often surface during the holidays. Add a bit of gluttony and some office party shenanigans to the mix, and we may find ourselves craving a quiet night in. Wouldn’t it be nice to toss a couple of logs on the fire, light some candles, and sip a cocktail with a few more salubrious properties than a peppermint stick martini?
When I am feeling under the weather or need to jump start my immune system, I rely on the healing properties of elderberries. I usually sip elderberry tincture or elixir in warm water, but I thought it would be nice to add an elderberry syrup to whiskey sours. Elderberries are full of so much goodness: They can reduce swelling in mucous membranes and help relieve nasal congestion. Elderberries have anti-inflammatory and antiviral properties. They are rich in flavonoids, which have antioxidant properties.
In addition to elderberries, I included plenty of warming ginger, plus a few hawthorn berries to protect the heart and improve circulation. Hawthorn berries may strengthen and tone our blood vessels to protect them from damage. I added some cinnamon, cloves, and a little vanilla to make a powerful and tasty cocktail syrup. This syrup is wonderful in hot toddies, punches, or sodas.
Find a favorite flannel shirt, your coziest wooly socks, and warm up by the woodstove, while we listen to the wind, rain, and snow outside the window and enjoy some whiskey with magical properties.
Elderberry Ginger Sours
I have included allspice dram in this sour because it adds a lovely spicy edge. We love allspice dram in tiki drinks, but it combines well with whiskey too. I am working on a recipe for homemade allspice dram, but I highly recommend St. Elizabeth. I use it in baking and in my Thanksgiving cranberry sauce.
Makes two cocktails
1 - 1.5 ounces fresh lemon or lime juice
2 ounces elderberry ginger syrup, recipe below
3 slices of fresh ginger
4 ounces bourbon, rye, or brandy
2 teaspoons allspice dram
Garnishes: A small piece of candied ginger on a cocktail pick, a twist of lemon or orange peel, or a sprinkle of turmeric powder
Add the citrus juice, elderberry ginger syrup, and ginger to a cocktail shaker. Muddle the ginger pieces in the liquid. Add the remaining ingredients and shake well. Strain into ice filled rocks glasses. Garnish as desired.
Elderberry Ginger Syrup
This syrup packs immune boosting power. The dried berries, herbs, and spices are available at natural foods stores or online at Mountain Rose Herbs.
This recipe yields a little more than a cup of syrup. Use the syrup for cocktails, sodas, or hot toddies.
1/3 cup dried elderberries
A four inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
A two inch piece of cinnamon stick
2 whole cloves
Optional: 1 tablespoon dried rosehips and/or hawthorn berries, half of vanilla bean
1 1/2 cups water
1 cup sugar or honey
Add all ingredients except sugar/honey to a small saucepan. Simmer gently for ten minutes. Add sugar/honey to pan and simmer on low for another ten minutes. Remove from heat and let cool in the pan. Strain and bottle. Keep refrigerated and use within a week or two.