2 Festive Herbal Cocktails That Double As Stress Relief Elixirs
Whether you prefer your plants growing indoors in minimalist pots, surrounding you on an outdoor hike or as part of your green beauty skincare routine, the appeal of plants seems almost primal. We’re drawn to nature to relieve stress, heal illness and sustain our bodies—but when it comes to holiday cocktails, plants often get overlooked. We’re bringing it back to botanicals this season with festive herbal cocktails you can create to wow your holiday guests—and toast to Mother Nature while you’re at it.
The “Sip for Stress Relief” Cocktail
Elderflower-based drinks not only taste delicious, but elderflower is also a natural stress reliever—and who doesn’t need a little stress relief this time of year? “You might have heard of elderflower tea for a fever,” says Katja Swift, Clinical Herbalist at CommonWealth Center for Holistic Herbalism. “It helps to open up the periphery and allows you to sweat out a fever, but it works the same way with emotions—all that hot anxiety and mental tension can just evaporate!”
One of Katja’s favorite ways to incorporate elderflower in her festive herbal cocktails is to mix St. Germain with soda water. She prefers ginger-infused soda water or elderflower-mint mineral water (available at Whole Foods). Katja emphasizes that you don’t need a cocktail to reap the stress-relieving benefits of elderflower—the tea does this job just as well. But, she says, “Cocktails are fun and delicious!”
The “Wow! This Tastes Like Winter” Cocktail
“First of all, anything made with gin is already an herbal cocktail,” Katja reminds us. Gin is made from juniper berries and other natural botanicals, such as citrus. But Katja likes to dress her gin and tonics up with what’s in abundance this year: pine. “I love to just add some pine elixir, which is a tincture made from white pine needles, to which honey is added,” Katja shares. “It’s so delicious!” Just adding a splash of pine elixir can instantly take a gin and tonic from standard fare to festive herbal cocktail.
Katja encourages us to get outside in nature for a bit to create a pine elixir from scratch. (We count this as a double win: The stress-relieving benefits of connecting with nature and a gorgeous pine elixir we can drink all season long!)
“Making the tincture is easy,” Katja assures us. “Just gather up white pine branches after a big windstorm—there are always some lying around. You’ll know it’s white pine because the needles are long, and bundled in groups of five. If you’re in the west, pinon (or pinyon) pine works great too! Put them in a mason jar (it’s okay if a little bit of twig gets in there too!) and cover with vodka. Let them soak—or ‘macerate’—for a month, then strain the liquid and compost the pine needles. Now you have a tincture that tastes and smells like pine.”
Add a bit of honey to make it an elixir (a sweetened tincture), Katja says, or just leave it as is if you’re not a fan of sweet drinks. Bottoms up!
Searching for ways to stay on the healthy eating track this season? Discover these three tips from a doctor and best-selling author.