Drink This Now: The Fine Feller Cocktail


A wintry drink from San Francisco's Daniel Hyatt [Photograph: Nick Guy]

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It's the same thing every year: the Christmas tree goes up, and then sticks around for a few weeks, before being unceremoniously tossed to the curb. But have you ever stopped to look at your tree and wondered...how would that taste? We like to imagine that Daniel Hyatt, formerly of San Francisco's Alembic and Roka Akor, had that kind of aha moment staring at his Christmas tree one winter evening, and it lead to the development of this cocktail.

Honey, tea, and lemon on ice may make this one sound like a summer drink, but the needles from a pine, spruce, or Douglas fir tree move it somewhere chilly. You can easily snip the tips from the tree in your home, although it shouldn't come as a surprise that it takes some time to build up a good collection. We suggest working your way around the tree, so that you don't have to tell the kids a reindeer got to it. It's a good idea, of course, to find a tree that hasn't been sprayed with any sort of pesticides.

The burn of the rye disappears beneath the tea, and the rich sweetness of honey and apple cider make this a very easy drinking cocktail. Yes, it tastes like a Christmas tree smells, at least subtly, more like a gentle gin than any sort of pine-scented household cleaner.

Other aromatic botanicals may work well in here too; we're going to swap out the pine needles for basil once the sun starts to poke its head out again.