Do you do anything special to mark the winter solstice as a holiday or special day?
It isn’t one of my main holidays – or even what you might call a secondary holiday (like Arbor Day!). But I can’t help to always feel like I need to make a nod to the evening when everything shifts. The shift feels substantial because it is always just about the same time when I feel most disgruntled at the shortening days. The winter solstice is the darkest day of the year and also the low point. After this day (even though all of winter lies ahead), I can thankfully reassure myself that the light is steadily returning. It’s a mindset that helps me love winter more and feel like something is building rather than draining away – even in the darkest months.
I’ve never been a person who finds much use for the New Year’s Eve/Day holiday. It seems a bigger made up occasion than say, Valentines day or any other hallmark holiday. I can’t help but not be into it. I usually make resolutions at the solstice and I tend to have already messed them up by new year. So, I guess, the only real good I get out of New Year’s Eve, is a second chance. And take two is always a little more successful than the first shot.
Am I the only one overrun with squash after Thanksgiving? It always happens – I want to decorate with more squash than I actually want to eat. And then what? I offer this as a solution: Cocktails made with a squash shrub. Make the shrub now and then you can symbolically drink to La Resurrección (i.e. the fancypants way of coming back to life, light, or whatever) on December 21st (or whenever).
1.5 oz Bully Boy Boston Rum
(I live in New England and we have a Rum-making history here – but you can go local with your own regional dark rum)
0.5 oz Mathilde Poire Liqueur
1 oz Chilled Black Tea
0.5 oz Maple Syrup (mixed 1:1 with water so it’s less viscous)
0.5 oz Fresh Lemon Juice
0.5 oz Spiced Squash Shrub*
Splash of Ginger ale
Dash Fee Brothers Cardamom Bitters
Shake all with ice and strain into an ice filled glass. Garnish with a lemon wheel.
*Spiced Squash Shrub
2 cups chopped fresh squash
2 cinnamon sticks
3 whole cloves
1 1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled
1 whole star anise
1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
18 ounces vinegar of your choice
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
Simmer the squash and spices with the vinegar, covered, over medium heat for 10 minutes. Pour into a sterilized jar and allow to infuse overnight. Strain out the squash and spices and heat in a saucepan with the brown sugar until dissolved. Allow to cool. Bottle and keep in the refrigerator for up to 4 months.
Recipe by Joy Flanagan