Technically speaking the Winter Solstice is the day with the longest period of darkness and the shortest period of light, marking the beginning of the winter season for those of us who live in the Northern hemisphere. The good news is that everything gets better from here. What the Winter Solstice really celebrates is that despite the change in seasons, the days will actually start getting longer again. So in a sense we are turning from darkness back into light. In addition to the literal meaning, there is also a very symbolic interpretation of the Solstice as well. The long hours of darkness leading up to December 21st cause us to become reflective; our thoughts turn inward and our instincts become more intuitive. When the Solstice occurs (and it really only lasts for a moment) it allows us to consider that there may be things in our lives that we are ready to release. Are we holding on to a relationship or situation that no longer serves us, or leaves us feeling depleted and empty? The Solstice is the perfect time to let whatever it is go, and begin seeking people and experiences of substance that will ultimately bring us a sense of fulfillment rather than emptiness.
So how in the world could I come up with a cocktail that would measure up to all of this? My initial thought was that it needed to have an unusual combination of ingredients in it, and I knew just which bottle to reach for first. In addition to the amazing St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram that I told you about yesterday, I also got a bottle of something equally special called Rujero Singani from Bolivia. The Singani is made from Muscat of Alexandria grapes that are grown in the Andes mountains at high elevations. At this altitude, the physical composition of the grapes actually changes and they become incredibly floral and aromatic. This would be my base spirit and from here I’d do a riff on a Negroni. That meant that I needed a bitter element next, but I had to be careful not to overpower the Singani. I chose Suze because of its bright yellow coloring (fitting for the Solstice idea, I thought) and because its flavor is delicate enough to truly complement the Singani, rather than overwhelm it. The third component in a Negroni is sweet vermouth, and I decided immediately on Dolin Blanc, with its honey sweetness and hint of herbal bitterness. I tasted the cocktail at this point and something was still missing. I tried adding a number of the DRAM Apothecary bitters before landing on the Palo Santo. I was secretly hoping that this would be the one that would work because Palo Santo is a sacred or holy wood that is supposed to contain mystical properties that lead to enlightenment. Perfect, right? Finally I went with a bay leaf as my garnish because it symbolizes wisdom, especially that which comes from following your intuition. With the addition of the bitters and the bay leaf, all of the elements of this cocktail came together just as I hoped they would. The end result was truly magical.
A Winter Solstice
1 oz Rujero Singani
1 oz Suze Saveur d’Autrefois
1 oz Dolin Blanc
1 dash DRAM Palo Santo bitters
Add all the ingredients to a mixing glass and fill 2/3 full with ice. Stir with a long-handled bar spoon 30-45 seconds or until very cold. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass using a Julep strainer. Garnish with the bay leaf. Sip. Contemplate. Re-evaluate. Enjoy!
I wish you all peace and joy this holiday season. Thank you so much for reading. Merry Christmas!