I stumbled over this recipe for Christmas cocktails a few weeks ago and was itching to try it. I like to play bartender at holiday parties and get-togethers, and I’m always looking for something new and unique. I was looking for some easy Christmas cocktails that I can serve up rather quickly and discovered this one that could use either vodka or gin.
I was surprised to see that this festive vodka cocktail featured pine needles. I wasn’t even aware that you could even consume pine needles, but a quick search told me that you could, indeed, consume pine needles. Sometimes they are made into tea.
I was game, but I didn’t know how this would be received. Would guest be okay with consuming the beautifully decorated Christmas tree in their glasses? So I decided to give the cocktail a dry run, so to speak, recently with my boyfriend and some guests he had over.
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My boyfriend’s daughter had somehow managed to choose a full, beautiful, almost perfectly symmetrical tree, so I settled on swiping some pine needles from near the bottom of the tree for my Christmas cocktail experiment.
Instead of using vodka, I opted for gin in this Christmas-themed drink. I picked up the fresh ingredients from the store (having to make an extra emergency trip, because I had forgotten the lemon, grr).
I have modified the recipe somewhat from the original. I doubled the alcohol called for to give it more bang. Plus, I wanted to make a “real” cocktail.
I chose to muddle half of the cranberries without adding the liquids, because I find it to be a real pain to muddle anything with too much liquid in it. I initially tried to muddle everything together, but the cranberries had a tendency to float to the top.
The Muddled Pine Cocktail
15 Fresh cranberries
1 oz Fresh lemon juice
1 dash Angostura bitters
1/2 oz Lemon-lime soda
2 oz Gin or Vodka
1/2 oz Pine syrup
Garnish: Cranberries and Pine sprig
Bring 1 cup of water and 1 cup of sugar to a boil until dissolved.
Reduce the heat to low and add a handful of chopped pine needles.
Stir and remove from heat. Let sit for 2 hours.
Strain and refrigerate. Keeps up to 3 weeks.
Add half of the cranberries to the bottom of the shaker and muddle.
Add lemon juice, bitters, pine syrup, and remainder of the cranberries and muddle the rest of the cranberries.
Add the gin or vodka (optional) and ice, and shake until chilled. There should be frost on the outside of the shaker.
Strain into a rocks glass over ice and top with lemon-lime soda.
Garnish with cranberries and a sprig of pine.
I added a bit more pine syrup to stand up to the herbal flavor of the gin. The syrup did have a pine flavor, but I think next time I’ll add another handful of needles for a bolder flavor.
This cocktail turned out to be a hit, however. I was quite surprised and pleased. My Sweetie says this is his new favorite cocktail. Give it a try—you may like it.
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