There’s always a strange adjustment period that happens around this time every year. Even though the days gradually start getting shorter in June, this whole dark at 4pm business always seems to come out of nowhere. I feel like just yesterday I was putzing around in the garden until 9pm and now I suddenly find myself rushing to take pictures of our dinner at 3:00 because the sun is starting to set. It requires a major shift in mindset that is only now starting to set in (anyone else??).
In just a few days we’ll transform the house into a winter wonderland, adorned with decorations that only make contextual sense one month out of the year. We’ll drag a big tree inside and spend the next ~25 days trying to remember to water it. We’ll start to think about buying things for everyone but ourselves for once. Morning smoothies get replaced with heavily buttered toast. And when it comes to our evening cocktails, we’ll swap out crisp white wines and bubbly spritzers for something a little more satisfying. Because a chilled glass of sauvignon blanc just doesn’t have the same effect as it did a few months ago.
Warm cocktails are somewhat of a new thing for me. I’ve always enjoyed a little nip in my coffee (after dinner, of course), but mulled wines, hot ciders and the like were never really in my wheelhouse. This year, however, all that’s changed. Getting older is funny that way. Just when you think you know what you like, it up and changes out of nowhere. Hot toddies, in particular, have become my favorite way to drink up winter. They feel so nice going down and also manage to convince me that I’m hydrating at the same time.
A classic hot toddy made with honey, lemon, hot water and whiskey is always a solid move when the weather starts getting that familiar nip in the air. As for this toddy, it’s a bit more special, making it most appropriate for the holidays. Spicy ginger and sweet, tangy blueberries give this otherwise simple libation a very welcome twist.
Blueberries are usually thought of as a summertime ingredient because that’s when they’re in season and most plentiful. Here in South Jersey, we’re especially big on blueberries since we’re lucky enough to be tucked next to one of the biggest growing regions in the country. I try to hoard as many as I can all summer long. Literally. I buy them by the case at farmer’s markets and stash them in my freezer for later use.
Blueberries are one of the easiest fruits to freeze because they don’t require any chopping, blanching, stemming or even separating. They can go straight into the freezer in their little plastic containers and will come out the exact same way: individually frozen, not clumped together (just make sure they aren’t wet before going in), and ready for incorporating into all kinds of recipes. You can’t use these like fresh blueberries, though. Once frozen, they most definitely lose their fresh, firm texture. But, they work beautifully in smoothies, baked goods, and in this case – cocktails.
If you don’t have a freezer packed full of frozen-from-summer blueberries like I do, not to worry. Fresh blueberries are available for purchase year round thanks to our friends in South America and the magic of importing. What a time to be alive!
This drink couldn’t be more perfect for the cold winter months ahead. It warms your hands, your throat and your tummy all at the same time. Plus, it’s loaded with nutrition to ward off colds and keep you healthy as a horse all season long. Honey, lemon and ginger are all natural immune boosters, and blueberries are packed with vitamin C and antioxidants to help keep all the bad bugs at bay. And if you happen to come down with a little tickle, this is just the thing you want to be sipping on. The bourbon is merely a bonus.
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Thank you to the US Highbusth Blueberry Council for sponsoring this post!