Happy Solstice! As the shortest day of the year comes to an end and the longest night begins it is time to light a blazing bonfire or a few candles. Gather mistletoe, holly, or conifer branches and place them on your mantel. Get cozy and raise a glass to the coming light.
Here are a couple of drinks to celebrate and bring holiday cheer.
Spruce and Smoke
This isn’t the first conifer based cocktail that I have shared with you, but last week I found myself with some leftover bits of backyard spruce that I didn’t want to go to waste. I was in the Christmas spirit, so I made a rich spruce syrup. I was inspired to make a cocktail that tasted like a forest in winter, with elements of spruce, snow, and a little smoke.
Makes two cocktails.
3 ounces rye whiskey
1.5 ounces Clear Creek Douglas Fir eau de vie
3 teaspoons mezcal, I use Vida Del Maguey
2 ounces rich spruce syrup (feel free to use any edible conifer such as douglas fir, spruce, or pine)
1.5 ounces lemon or lime juice
Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker and shake well for fifteen seconds. Serve strained into cocktail glasses or ice-filled rocks glasses. Garnish with a little conifer tip and a cranberry.
Rich Spruce Syrup
This recipe is different than the spruce syrup that I made for spruce sours, this version is richer and more concentrated. This syrup will stand up to the combination of rye, mezcal, and eau de vie. If refrigerated, this syrup will keep for a week or two.
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
3/4 cup chopped spruce, pine, or fir needles
Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan. Heat over medium-low flame for ten minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat. Cool completely and strain through a mesh strainer into a jar or bottle.
Bourbon Milk Punch
Adapted from the French 75 Bar in New Orleans. This was Humphrey Bogart's favorite Christmas drink. It is easy to make (and easy to sip)!
Makes 2 cocktails.
2 1/2 ounces bourbon, I used Burnside Bourbon from Eastside Distilling
1 ounce dark rum
4 ounces milk, half-and-half, or nut milk
1/4 ounce vanilla extract
1 ounce maple syrup
Combine bourbon, rum, milk, vanilla extract, maple syrup, and lots of ice in a cocktail shaker. Shake well for 30 seconds. Strain into coupe or cocktail glasses. Grate nutmeg on top.
Some more holiday drink ideas from the internets:
Poinsettia Punch, from Saveur
and this is one I can’t wait to try...
Atholl Brose (Scottish Breakfast), from Savoy Stomp
Winter cocktail inspiration from the archives:
Corpse Reviver No. 1 - Applejack or Calvados, brandy, and sweet vermouth
The Sellwood - A Manhattan with a hint of coffee
The Filibuster - A rye whiskey sour
Rust Never Sleeps - Rye, brandy, sweet vermouth, and bitters
Boulevardier Bourbon, Cardamaro, sweet vermouth, and blood orange
Happy Winter Solstice!