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'Tis the Season: Recipes for hot, spiked drinks


By Amy Gibson

Winter is a quiet time in nature, when life has retreated into roots and seeds, saving energy for the promise of sun. The forest is a dripping place that holds hints of what will come in spring. I find good practice in mimicking nature’s inactivity – I think of my desire to curl up and stay warm as a partial hibernation. Compared to the full social life that comes with the holiday season, taking time for quietude is necessary to create balance.

As a forager, I walk in the woods often in search of plants. I plan for spring, seeking new places in nature and finding promising skeletons of plants left behind for future harvests. To stay warm during these winter walks I pack a thermos full of a spiked hot beverage and sip as I go – maintaining my inner heat and embracing the season. Whether walking in the woods or curled up at home, there’s a hot drink to suit every occasion. These are two of my favorite quick drinks, along with a few fun combos to experiment with.

Fireside Companion

Make a strong chai tea of your choice – use 1.5 times more loose tea than normally called for in 10 ounces of water.

After tea is ready, add:

1.5 ounces of ginger-infused whiskey*

4 ounces milk of your choice

Honey to taste

2 dashes of spiced bitters

Cactus Flower

In 16 ounces of hot water, add:

1 cinnamon stick

2 slices of lemon or orange (including the rind)

3 tablespoons chamomile tea in a teabag

1.5 ounces of Reposado Tequila (or Mezcal, if you like)

Honey or agave syrup to taste

Let steep in thermos for at least 10 minutes before drinking

Other quick combos to experiment with:

Black tea, spiced rum, choice of milk, orange bitters

Chaga Mushroom tea, creme de cacao, coconut cream, dark rum

Reishi Mushroom tea, ginger whiskey, amaretto, lemon

Coffee, brandy, black walnut bitters, frangelico

Dandelion root tea, honey, choice of milk, spiced alcohol

*Have you tried infusing your own alcohol yet? It’s easy! Pulse 1/4 cup fresh ginger in a food processor, and combine with 2 cups of whiskey. Let it sit for 4 days, strain through a cheesecloth, and you’re done.

Amy Gibson loves learning about all the edible and medicinal plants she can find in Whatcom County.