This is one of the cocktails we served at this past weekend’s Kinfolk Herbal Infusions workshop here in Chattanooga, TN. I created it to be not only appropriately festive for the understated & elegant flutes and gorgeous quartz crystal votive West Elm gave us for our fete, but also to be a mindful, refreshing blend. One befitting this time of year not only in it’s flavor profile but in it’s meaning as well. The base of this cocktail is a simple syrup infused with feathery sage & piquant ginger, a bright and earthy concoction that’s equally refreshing and festive in a glass of sparkling water for those of you who, like me, abstain for whatever reason, as it is in a crisp glass of Prosecco. Plants being more than plants but being rather our symbiotic cohabitants of this mortal coil, this bubbling drink is more than just a palatable way to sling back enough alcohol to feel comfortable with your family. Instead, we can think of it as a tincture, as a potent medicine that lends itself to mindful savoring & promotes strength, prosperity, and cleansing. Heed the metaphysics of the holidays & the delicious foods and drinks we create and enjoy a whole new dimension of experience.
The stress of the holidays is largely due, in part, to a myopic focus on the material. I don’t say do away with the material; no, gift giving, decorating, and feasting are all such wonderfully rich and meaningful rituals. But it’s when we remember the source of those rituals that they come alive, that we find sustenance in them. When you gather in the candle light in the warmth of your home and sip this drink in celebration, let the bubbles tingle on the back of your tongue, search out the fragrant notes of sage and appreciate the bite of ginger.
I like to recall the folk history of herbs, the old world mystical properties. Belief being a powerful force and the universe being, at my last assessment, quite vast, I like to imagine that just as I take in the beneficial phytochemicals, vitamins, and minerals I also take in these folkloric properties. Ginger, believed to have originated in the Himalayan foothills, has long been used in ancient medicine for everything from settling the stomach to soothing a cold. But the gnarled, spicy root is also said to draw adventure and new experiences and to promote sensuality, confidence, prosperity, and success. It, like like the quartz crystal of the votive, is said to amplify the properties of anything it’s mixed with, which in this case would be cleansing sage. Carried on your person, it was believed to promote good health & protection.
Sage is one of the most sacred herbs, traditionally burned in the purification and cleansing of both spaces and people. At a time of year that is, we have to acknowledge, painful for people who have lost loves ones or have fallen on a difficult period of life, sage also aids in the comfort of grief. A bringer of wisdom and clarity, sage was used in healing sachets & incense and to promote spiritual, mental, emotional & physical health and longevity. Long believed to remove negative energy, you can, as a personal meditation or prayer place near a personal object of a person who is ailing. Intent has a brilliant way of manifesting, and when we enjoy the fragrance and taste of an herb and visualize it doing it’s healing work, sometimes the results can be surprising for, indeed: as above, so below.
Rather than devoting the holidays to indulging I’ve tried to create a mindful intent, a prayer, a wish, a meditation for myself: This season I will celebrate life, rebirth, hope, renewal, and all that I am grateful for. I’ll notice the midwinter light. I’ll remember the footfalls and dirt beneath the feet of my ancestors, the aeons of beings before me, with entire worlds in their minds just like mine, that have gathered in holy observance of this time of year.
The holidays: Yule, Christmas, Hanukkah, Midwinter to Saturnalia, whatever you observe, this is a time of year trembling with rebirth. It’s a season when the sun hangs heavy, the celestial bowing it’s head to earth. So enjoy every note both literal and metaphorical of this empowering and purifying drink and celebrate with your family, both living and passed, the wonderful echoes of the spiritual in the earthly and a time of year when they commingle in ritual, gathering, and feasting with those dear to us.