Holidays With Honey – The Winter Solstice Cocktail

winter-solstice

The pomegranate has been used throughout history and in almost every religion as a symbol of humanity’s most fundamental beliefs and desires, including life and death, rebirth and eternal life, fertility and marriage, abundance and prosperity. Almost every aspect of the pomegranate has come to symbolize something . . . its shape, color, seeds, juice.

It’s very fitting that the Winter Solstice cocktail should feature pomegranate juice.

Ingredients

2 oz vodka

3/4 oz fresh lemon juice

1/2 oz pomegranate juice

1 oz honey

Orange wedge

Directions

Add vodka, lemon juice, pomegranate juice, and honey to a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a short or highball glass with ice. Garnish with an orange wedge. Drink up and repeat!

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.

Drunken Bee Limeade

Make sure there is a designated driver or a taxi at the ready! Refreshing, delicious and brutal…

1 cup lime juice
1/4-1/2 cup honey
2 cups vodka
2 cups ice cubes
1 lime, rinsed
5 cups ice cold water

 
In a pitcher (at least 2-qt. capacity), stir lime juice and 1/4 cup honey until blended. Taste; if mixture is too tart, add up to 1/4 cup more honey. Add 2 cups vodka and 5 cups water. Chill until cold, at least 1 hour, or up to 1 day.

Just before serving, add ice cubes. Thinly slice lime crosswise (discard ends), cut slices in half, and add to pitcher.

Ginger Honey Liqueur

The bees gave us one of the earliest alcoholic beverages known, mead.  Mead predates wine and distilled spirits by many thousands of years.

This recipe is quite different from mead, but satisfying just the same. Vodka may be substituted for whiskey for a lighter tasting drink.

Ingredients


  • 1 cup honey
  • 1 cup water
  • 3 tablespoons chopped, fresh ginger root
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest

1 1/2 cups bourbon whiskey (or vodka)

How to make it


  • Bring honey and water to boil, boiling for approx. 3 – 5 minutes. Ensure to skim any foam off surface (this is residual beeswax).
  • Add ginger and lemon and boil for additional 5 minutes.
  • Remove from heat and stand until just warm, strain out solids with fine seive.
  • Transfer liquid to clean dry container and add whiskey or vodka.
  • Store in cool, dark place for 4 weeks.

Enjoy!

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