Celebrating the Winter Solstice: Welcome the Season with a Sparkling Ode to Krampus…

The Ode to Krampus

As the final hours of Autumn slip away with the low sun, and Winter arrives in her frosty chariot, I’ll be celebrating the Solstice this evening with friends and family. Marking the Winter Solstice is one of my favorite holiday traditions. And this year, while searching for a special cocktail to serve at a holiday party, my very resourceful friend Mel happened to send me a fabulous list of libations from the New York Times Online. Jackpot!

Being an Alpine-kind-of gal, the very first recipe on the list immediately caught my eye (although Mel and I both agreed that the name didn’t do it justice, so I immediately re-named it The Krampus). This pine and elderflower-essence-infused, sparkling drink honors Krampus: a mythical, demon-like, pagan character from familiar childhood tales. According to Alpine legend, St. Nicholas (Santa Claus) travels with the rusty-chain laden Krampus from house to house, warning and punishing bad children (sound familiar?). Krampus is one of those hold-over pagan elements —much like the decorative evergreen tree, yule log, and other little bits of holiday cheer— that accompany Christmas. I think this Alpine-influenced story and recipe make a particularly appropriate cocktail to celebrate the longest night of they year, don’t you? Have you been naughty or nice? I think a visit from Krampus would be exciting either way!

Krampus and Nikolaus Visiting Children in Austria (image: Wikimedia Commons)

Unfortunately, one of the main ingredients —pine liqueur— proved impossible to locate on short notice, (though it can be found online and in specialty liquor stores). However, I did find a good piney substitute —rosemary liqueur— to use in its stead. And with a sprig of fresh white pine (Pinus strobus) tucked into the glass, this drink is tasty, fragrant, horticultural and festive.

Enjoy the Winter Solstice, and the stark, white beauty of this spectacular season. Cheers!

Pinus strobus -Eastern White Pine

Winter’s Stark, White Beauty

Ode to Krampus

(From the New York Times “For Every Holiday Party, the Right Drink”… with a teensy tweak)

Ingredients: Makes One Cocktail (multiply for a party)

3                ounces of dry white wine

1/2            ounce dry vermouth

1/2            ounce elderflower liqueur

1/4            ounce pine liqueur (or sub rosemary liqueur)

1                ounce club soda

1                ounce dry, sparkling wine (a brut prosecco is perfect)

1                slice grapefruit peel garnish

1                sprig fresh eastern white pine (Pinus strobus)

Here’s the mix…

Add ice to a large cocktail glass and combine the wine, vermouth and liqueur. Stir and top off with the prosecco and club soda. Twist a grapefruit peel over the cocktail and stick it in the side of the glass. Garnish with a small sprig of white pine.

Cheers !

From Winter’s Dusk

To Winter’s Dawn…

May You Find Beauty and Happiness in this Sparkling Season. Happy Holidays!

You may also enjoy the Persephone. Click here or on the image below for story and recipe from last Winter…

The Persephone


Article and Photos â“’ Michaela at TGE

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6 Replies to “Celebrating the Winter Solstice: Welcome the Season with a Sparkling Ode to Krampus…”

  1. Michaela

    Indeed, it’s pretty good with the rosemary liqueur… and the white pine sprig helped too. But, my winter-loving friend, I think we really must try it together once I get my hands on the pine liqueur.
    xo M

  2. Deb Weyrich-Cody

    What if you just muddled a pine sprig (or bruise really well with mortar and pestle), then use a little extra vermouth or wine to pick up the essence? Worth a shot and God knows we all have lots of pines around, right? Cheers and Happy Solstice, xo D.

  3. Carrie

    Hi! I came to your blog because I read a comment of yours on Heidi Swanson’s 101cookbooks. I am making her Sparkling Cranberries and you commented last year that you were wondering about Sugar Plums. Well, you inspired me to look, and I found 2 good recipes and combined them to make a delicious treat, overflowing with holiday spice, toasted nuts and dried fruit. I’m serving them side-by-side with the cranberries. I thought since it was ‘your’ idea in the first place, that I should share it with you! Thanks for the inspiration!!

    Happy Solstice/Christmas/New Year!


  4. Michaela

    Hi Carrie, Thank you so much for letting me know about this! What a great story. Of course, you know I’m going to have to try it now too!
    Happy Holidays to you as well, and all of the warmest wishes for a lovely 2011!
    xo Michaela

  5. Michaela

    @ Deb – I think it’s worth a shot! I did a bit more research and the alpine pine liqueur is made with mugo pine, though I have a hunch eastern white pine would be delightful as well. Let me know if you try it out, and Merry Christmas to you!
    xo Michaela

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