Some people write family newsletters for the holidays, some people make playlists. I make herbal cordial. It’s a sweet liqueur that can be made in the space of two days, as simply as brewing a pot of tea.
You can pick your flavors by visiting the bulk herbs section at a natural food store. In a pinch, snip a few tea bags open—voila, a balanced blend of flavors. This year I’m using Lapsang Souchong, tea smoked over bundles of pine needles. It tastes like a campfire, and warms you right up.
1 cup sugar
½ cup water
½ cup herbs and spices, (1/4 cup if using black or green tea)
8 cups vodka (about 1 750mL bottle, minus one shot)
1 Portion your herbal herbs and spices into a very large jar for steeping.
2 Make a simple syrup by simmering water and sugar over medium heat, stirring often, until the sugar dissolves.
3 While the syrup is still hot, pour it over the herbs and stir. After it has steeped for about three minutes, pour eight cups of vodka into the jar to cool the brew.
4 Cover and store in a cool, dark place. Pour that last shot of vodka for yourself, and let your cordial sit for twenty-four hours.
5 On day two, strain the cordial with a fine-mesh strainer or a coffee filter, and pour it into decorative bottles or jars. Name and label your creations, tie them up with ribbon, and cross a few naughties off your list.
This brew will continue to improve with age, and can be used in small portions—drizzle it over ice cream, use it as a glaze, mix it into drinks, or pour it into a tiny glass and pretend you are a giant. (Abi Knopp)