Cheery Cranberry Cocktails

Have you ever noticed how many mixed drinks contain cranberry juice? Why is that, I wondered?  

The answer was easy to find. Cranberry juice is unique in that it can can be paired with a variety of flavors and will nearly always taste great.

In many mixed drinks cranberry juice is used to finish off a drink or to give it that “something special”. Cranberry juice’s sweet and tart flavor pairs well with practically any type of alcohol including vodka, gin, bourbon, rum and tequila. It even enhances the flavor of Champagne!

In addition to the drinks below, there is cranberry juice in The Samhain and also in The Bee-tini, which you can find in Cooking With Honey.

Honey Cranberry Champagne Cocktail

Ingredients

  • 1-ounce cranberry juice (sweetened)
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 wedge lime
  • Champagne or sparkling wine
  • Cranberries (frozen)

Directions

In a chilled Champagne flute add cranberry juice, honey and a squeeze of lime. Stir gently until honey is blended in.  Top off the glass with Champagne. Garnish with 3 or 4 cranberries.

Honey Cranberry Slush

Photo courtesy of Amy Marrero Doyle

Ingredients 

1 cup frozen cranberry juice concentrate

1/2 cup honey

juice of 1 lemon

1 (12 ounce) can chilled lemon-lime soda

1 cup bourbon

Directions

In a medium bowl, stir together the cranberry juice concentrate, honey, lemon juice, lemon-lime soda and bourbon. Cover and freeze overnight. It will remain slushy because of the bourbon. Scoop spoonfuls into small glasses to serve as a cocktail.

Recipe makes 6 servings

Samhain And The Bees

The ancient Celtic calendar follows the agricultural year more closely than our modern calendar. This is especially true for the beekeeper.

It “officially” becomes Winter on December 21st by the standard Western calendar, but in the ancient Celtic calendar, it begins a lot earlier.  On November 1st, Celtic winter begins with  the season of  Samhain (pronounced SOW-in).  The beginning of Samhain is traditionally celebrated on October 31st.

The Celtic seasons  are:

1. Samhain    (Winter) November 1st, the beginning of the new year, to January 31st.

2. Imbolc    (Spring)  February 1st to April 30th

3. Beltain    (Summer) May 1st to July 31st

4. Lughnasadh   (Fall)  August 1st to Oct. 31st

Why does the Celtic Winter start so early?

For beekeepers, it means that the queen stops laying and the bees go into their winter cluster with the queen always at the center, huddling together for warmth until Imbolc arrives in February and the queen again becomes active.

For most “believers”, Samhain,  means “End of Summer”, and is the third and final Harvest. The dark winter half of the year commences on this day.

October 31st is one of the two “spirit-nights” each year, the other being Beltain. It is a magical interval when the mundane laws of time and space are temporarily suspended, and the Thin Veil between the worlds is lifted. Communicating with ancestors and departed loved ones is easy at this time, for they journey through this world on their way to the Summerlands.

This was the time that the cattle and other livestock were slaughtered for eating in the ensuing winter months. Any crops still in the field on Samhain were considered taboo, and left as offerings to the Nature spirits.

Bonfires were built, (originally called bone-fires, for after feasting, the bones were thrown in the fire as offerings for healthy and plentiful livestock in the New Year) and stones were marked with peoples names. Then they were thrown into the fire, to be retrieved in the morning.

The condition of the retrieved stone foretold of that person’s fortune in the coming year. Hearth fires were also lit from the village bonfire to ensure unity, and the ashes were spread over the harvested fields to protect and bless the land.

Celebrate the Lifting of the Veil with a Samhain Cocktail.

1 1/2 oz. Vodka

1/2 oz. raspberry liqueur

1/2 oz. honey

1 oz. cranberry juice

Mix together in a shaker with ice and strain into a martini glass. Garnish with a cranberry.