I think you all know by now that I occasionally like to interject a little bit of astrology into my cocktail posts. Today is going to be one of those days. Earlier this morning, just before 2 am, the last new moon of 2016 occurred. A new moon always marks the end of one lunar cycle and the beginning of another; it’s a constant or a given, something that has been happening since forever. Each month we’re given a new opportunity to make a to-do list and tackle it with fresh energy. This is especially significant right now because in a few days we’ll be turning that to-do list into our New Year’s resolutions. The December new moon encourages us to turn our thoughts inward and reflect on what goals we’d like to set for ourselves, not just for this month, but for the entire year ahead. It also suggests that these goals can actually be soothing and healing for us, because they impose order and provide some structure to our lives, thus helping us to make sense out of the day-to-day chaos that happens to all of us. They also give us clarity and insight into what we really want, but it’s up to us to figure out the steps we need to take to actually achieve them.
In creating this December New Moon cocktail, I decided that mezcal was going to be my base spirit since it’s such an agent of clarity for so many people. After all, at some point in our lives haven’t we all claimed to see more clearly after a shot of tequila?? For my next spirit I went with Yellow Chartreuse for its color and its subtle herbal profile, and because I love the way it pairs together with mezcal. Chartreuse has been made in the same way by the Carthusian monks since 1737, based on careful instructions contained in a manuscript from 1605, that they are not sharing with anyone. Apparently French and Italian monks are equally secretive! I felt like this ancient recipe brought the idea of order and structure to the drink. Ginger and lemon also work well with mezcal, and since both are very soothing they fit in with the theme of the cocktail too. The chamomile syrup added just the right amount of sweetness to offset the lemon’s acidity, and the sage bitters echoed the herbal notes in the Chartreuse. In terms of symbolism, chamomile encourages us to have patience and sage brings us healing. I was happy with how all the components came together in this drink, and I felt like they each had a deeper meaning as well. It reminded me of a Penicillin Cocktail, with its smoky, gingery, lemony profile, but mezcal is very different from Scotch in that it has that elusive element to it that can only be described as funk. The Chartreuse, chamomile, and sage enhance that funkiness, bringing it even more to the forefront. Sip this cocktail slowly and patiently and let the new moon guide you as you write your New Year’s resolutions. Don’t forget to make drinking new cocktails one of them!
December New Moon
1½ oz Del Maguey Chichicapa mezcal (or your favorite mezcal)*
½ oz Yellow Chartreuse
½ oz Domaine de Canton ginger liqueur
½ oz lemon juice
½ chamomile agave syrup**
2 dashes DRAM Apothecary Wild Mountain Sage bitters
Candied ginger cube for garnishing
Place all the ingredients in the bottom half of a shaker tin and add your ice. Shake vigorously for 20 seconds or until very cold. Double strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with a ginger cube on a skewer. Enjoy!
*You can swap tequila for the mezcal, but just remember that it won’t have the same smoky flavor profile that mezcal does. Smokiness in a drink does not appeal to everyone, so the tequila makes a good substitute in that case.
**Steep 2 chamomile teabags in hot water for 3 minutes or so. Combine equal parts of the tea and the agave and store in a Mason jar in the fridge for 2-3 weeks.